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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Leadership in Healthcare: Hospitals, Gangs, and Corporate Health

I had an interesting conversation with an executive coaching client who is a doctor at a large hospital. Like all big institutions, hospitals tend to get specialized into departments. Makes sense. But like most organizations (businesses, churches, clubs, associations…) that naturally form silos, hospitals can also hurt themselves by such specialization. Silos create gangs of sorts…albeit intellectually smart ones…but gangs nonetheless—of in-groups and out-groups. Such silos/gangs become possessive of their intellectual capital and even their physical territory.

So, I asked my client when hospitals worked at their best. His answer: When a patient is crashing, and the focus of the entire organization is on one thing—the patient’s welfare. This sense of urgency becomes the great unifier—it breaks down the turf wars and naturally helps people give up their egos in favor of the greater purpose—the patient’s life.

On a separate occasion, one CEO told me that the economy presents a perfect opportunity for change: It will force us to unite and focus on our common purpose within the company—corporate health.

Consider your own organization: Where are the gangs and what could unify them quickly?

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