Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the movie The Mighty Macs. It’s a story of a fledgling women’s college basketball team that rose to the national championship in the early 70’s at a time when the words “women” and “athletics” were rarely spoken in the same sentence.
We all love stories of underdogs that rise to the top in the face of adversity, don’t we? What always resonates with me is that this type of success story often contains a common denominator beyond the triumphant outcome. That common denominator is, in this case and as in millions of other success stories, a visionary leader who, despite all obstacles, persevered in the face of resistance. Cathy Rush, the feisty, determined coach who led the team to several national championships, had the vision to see what was possible and the grit to persevere when most of us would have given up.
This story made me think about all the visionary champions who lead within the healthcare industry. They may not always be in the limelight, but they are there. They embrace their work every day with the belief that they can make a difference in the lives of the patients they serve and the staff who serve them. These visionary leaders can be CEOs of large systems, or managers of small departments in critical access hospitals, and everything in between. This movie reminded me that visionary leaders do three things:
- They truly believe that they can make a difference
- They articulate their vision in a compelling manner that helps others believe in their vision as well (after all, you aren’t really leading if others aren’t following)
- They stay the course in the face of adversity
Leading a culture of service excellence requires that you believe you can improve the status quo. It means you consistently think and talk about the vision and help others believe they contribute to that vision every day. And, lastly, it requires that you stay the course, even when you hit obstacles.
I frequently interact with people from organizations who share a litany of reasons that they cannot do any better. Understaffed, cramped, and aging facilities and time constraints are at the top of the list they share for not being able to create a better patient experience. These people need a champion of change. They need a visionary leader who helps them believe that their patients deserve better than what they are getting—that every encounter is an opportunity to make a difference, and they can trust one another to deliver on the promise.
When employees have the benefit of working for a visionary leader, chances are, their lives will be enriched forever. They’ll have a stronger connection to their mission and vision and be a daily contributor to the brand experience.
Remember—everyone wants to be on the winning team. Help them believe they have what it takes to be service champions.