Leadership Blinders – 3 culture-killing habits to kick immediately

Over the years, I have worked with countless leaders who feel they are stuck and unable to elevate their culture further. What I have found repeatedly is a lack of awareness of how their own culture-killing habits are what keep them stuck. The habits I am referring to are those deeply entrenched excuses that we put into play when we are uncomfortable or unconsciously avoiding confrontation.

I was coaching a nurse manager “Claire” who was struggling with “Gretchen,” an individual on her team. Gretchen resisted doing bedside shift report despite it being a best practice that was adopted as a standard throughout the organization. She gave several reasons why she was still doing report outside the room on occasion. Despite repeated reminders, Gretchen continued to do report her way. Other team members noticed and brought it to Claire’s attention.

When Claire and I discussed this, I asked why bedside shift report mattered. Of course, I knew the answer, but wanted to hear her rationale. She was incredulous when she cited it as a best practice and gave me several reasons why they adopted it throughout their organization. When I probed deeper to learn what was keeping her from taking action, she clicked off my top three leader blinders. These are excuses we play in our own minds to justify inaction.

Blinder #1 – I Don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill

This is a classic avoidance behavior. We try to convince ourselves that whatever the issue is, we shouldn’t give make a big issue out of it. But beware. Little things add up.

Blinder #2 – It doesn’t happen all the time 

Telling herself that because the issue wasn’t 100% consistent, she didn’t need to act. This too is another red flag. It may not happen all the time, but every encounter counts. This may be a patient’s one experience with your organization. If you aren’t going to be consistent, maybe you need to put a disclaimer on your mission statement.

Blinder #3 – She has so many other positive attributes

This is one of the most common excuses I hear. It may be said in a variety of different ways, but it is still the same avoidance. Statements like, “But she’s such a good nurse” is a frequently used excuse. This is where we overlook downfalls because the person is clinically solid.

All of these blinders are simply excuses that erode your credibility with the rest of your staff. While you may think it’s not a big deal, the rest of the staff is watching. And every time you don’t take action, your leadership comes into question. Catch yourself the next time you don’t take action on an issue. And ask yourself if your blinders are up.

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