Lead or Manage for a Better Patient Experience?

Posted by Kristin Baird

In our coaching work, we often team up with managers who need support in becoming better leaders. They often have mastered managing, but need support learning how to lead.

Managers vs. Leaders

A very simplified version of the distinction is that leaders have followers and managers have people who work for them.

I think that one other key distinction is that managers are task-oriented. Managers do things like: Set and manage the budget, schedule people and resources, and directs activity.

Leaders on the other hand coach, inspire, challenge and create transformation.

It’s not unusual to have to help managers to make the distinction between managing and leading. At the same time, it’s important that they recognize there is a need for both. The budget needs to get balanced, schedules must be created, and payroll documents submitted. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Managing vs. Leading – Rounding

One example of managing vs leading happens when managers thrust a tactic at subordinates without first engaging them. They see it as a task and present it as a task.

Let’s take hourly rounding for example. I’ve seen managers announce that nurses will be required to do hourly rounding because it is now the hospital standard. Nurses are given rounding logs or software on ipads. and instructed how to check the boxes to document the task. Boxes are checked and the task is managed by both the nurses and managers.

That is task management.

A leader engages the team and discusses the “why” behind hourly rounding. She gets input on the tools and meaningful data collection. They discusses how rounding will benefit both the nurses and the patients and gives data to support the benefit claim.

She spends time demonstrating meaningful rounding and offers shadow/coaching to support individual learning. They share outcomes and gives positive reinforcement while holding everyone accountable. She focuses on teamwork.

And, while all that is happening, the nurses are engaged, the boxes are being checked and they are eager to see the impact of their efforts.

A good leader creates owners. Are you managing or leading?

  1. What’s In It For Me? – Why Nurses Benefit From Frequent Rounding
  2. Moving Beyond Nurse Tasks for a Better Patient Experience
  3. Recognition or Celebration
  4. It’s not resolutions, but resolve that will help improve the patient experience
  5. Manage Patient Expectations About Money
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