Any organization can produce a strategic plan focused on patient experience, but only those with courageous leadership will achieve the desired outcome.
I was recently working with a group of senior executives on creating a vision for the culture of the future. The team was energized and enthusiastic in conceptualizing the look and feel of their ideal culture. Once articulated, I asked the pivotal question, “Who do you have to be as leaders, in order to make this vision a reality?” This question always makes the visioning group pause because it is where reality sets in.
After giving them time to think, someone spoke up and said, “Courageous. We have to be courageous.” She went on to clarify that without courage to stand up to people and situations that are misaligned with that vision, none of it could become a reality. Bingo! That’s the first step in making a vision a reality. You need the courage to stand up for what is right.
In my consulting work, I see a significant void in leadership courage. It manifests most commonly in avoidance behavior. Leaders who avoid tough conversations with disengaged associates or who tolerate rude behavior from physicians are eroding the culture and their own credibility. It all comes down to courage.
Aristotle defines courage as the first virtue, because without courage, none of the others are possible. In other words; it takes courage to do the right thing, to make the tough decisions, and to speak your truth even when it’s tough. Especially when it’s tough.
Courageous leadership isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.