Future Leaders in Peak Performance: A new hybrid of competency, authenticity, and inclusiveness

 Physician Executives Forum Newsletter

January 24, 2014

Professional Pointers:

Future Leaders in Peak Performance: A new hybrid of competency, authenticity and inclusiveness

Joe Siegler, MD
President and Founder
Full Life
Spheres Executive and Physician Performance Coaching

Healthcare has grown increasingly competitive, and the companies that will flourish in this fast-moving, ever-evolving marketplace will have to promote a new form of leadership that addresses emerging priorities. A review of current business trends in healthcare reveals that the traditional task-driven, hierarchical-based models of operating systems do not account for sufficient speed, innovation and flexibility required to face fierce competition. John Kotter’s writings on the need for an additional nontraditional operating system have invited organizations to add a ”second operating system” to address these new nontraditional functions. Leaders of the future will need to successfully oversee or participate in both operating systems. The second operating system components must be seen as vital as the traditional.

It is clear that there is an opportunity for a new leader, one who has the skillsets, values and personality to adequately inspire their organization into a greatness that produces high-performing individuals, teams, senior leaders and even the staff-as-a-whole. This new prototype of a leader understands that success of the organization will depend on applying multiple innovations to the patient experience as well as to staff engagement in ways that are earthshattering and not simply talk. Inclusiveness and diversity will surely play a big role in the success of boards, clinical and administrative team productivity, and culturally sensitive patient care potentiating clinical outcomes. In order to produce this degree of effective innovation, each leader must bring diverse team members together to work toward common goals. The end game will be to inspire teams of clinicians, executives, senior leaders and staff to create new inventive programs that optimize patient experience—the ultimate metric outcome of the future.

Therefore, new leaders will promote achievement of clinical indicators for ACO relationships, traditional key performance indicators (i.e., productivity) and also introduce the vital emphasis of broad positive experience of both knowledge workers (highly trained physicians, executives and medical personnel) and customers (patients)—beyond anything we have seen up to this point in the evolution of healthcare systems. Medical care is steadily shifting away from a hospital/specialty and doctor-focused enterprise, and is moving towards a patient-oriented focus. Therefore, in the emerging paradigm, customer care is paramount to all else. This has been a long time coming, and is probably happening now because of the emphasis on metric clinical results and new cultural standards of covering most Americans with insurance. Shortages of primary care physicians also necessitate multi-disciplinary team approaches for handling potentially huge numbers of newly enrolled patients. Therefore, multi-facility and multi-disciplinary approaches will become the norm for each individual patient. For example, using a single specialist will no longer be sufficient as healthcare will increasingly utilize a multi-modal approach provided by high-performing leaders, teams and the entire staff.

The striking need for enhanced metric outcomes in disease management of individual patients also predicts a renaissance of behavioral health services (mental health and addictions) because of the valuable potential impact they can have on optimizing clinical results as well as the organizational bottom line. These rematerializing services provided on-site or locally, will also morph into exciting forms of new approaches and services such as:

  • online or video services
  • new ideas to manage mental health, addiction and recovery success
  • new tools to foster compliance and wellness of patients
  • peak performance coaching of physicians, executives, senior leaders and teams


The smartest system leaders will design and implement second parallel operating systems—those that are flexible, innovative and inclusive. For example:

  • The leaders of the future will need to create an inclusive culture by valuing people for their authentic selves, appreciating knowledge workers (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) and demonstrating respect of staff in multiple ways.
  • Team productivity is extremely important in achieving clinical and organizational key performance indicator metrics, more so than the performance of any single individual. Fostering a healthy, respectful work environment will be vital as team productivity becomes the vehicle of success. Research is revealing a fascinating finding that intra-team socialization predicts a higher performing team. Pentland reports that the success of teams is related to spontaneous socializing between team members1. Therefore, socializing teams will perform at higher levels, and as healthcare boards and teams become increasingly diverse, it will become imperative for skilled leaders to creatively breakdown the sense of ”difference” between team members and encourage intra-board and team socialization to foster peak output of each team. If a workplace culture is competent, inclusive and empathetic, then the staff will be more comfortable being themselves with their peers, which would result in greater intra-team socialization leading to higher performance. Services developed in this fashion will be more culturally sensitive and will serve the people from the community better with greater empathy and identification of unique needs. It is vital that all leaders examine their organization and consider the possibility that their strongly held personal beliefs and practices may actually work against the inroads into inclusion and possibly be experienced by patients and staff as imposed beliefs and practices—clearly the very opposite of effective business practices and trends.


Many leaders already claim significant advances in staff engagement and patient satisfaction (much more focal a metric than broader patient experience). That may be the case, but there clearly is a lot further we can go for each health system is a work in progress. For example, some physician and executive leaders who are fairly green are often selected for their ability to manage projects forward. They may be responsible for negotiating with staff and delivering on clinical metrics. Such a leader can make gains in project advancement, but some may have trouble with second operating system goals of innovation, emotional intelligence, transparency and inclusion. Objective ”left brain” skillsets of such leaders are needed by most organizations, but so are warm interpersonal skills of openness, inclusion and respect. According to business trends, in the future, through careful selection and training of leaders, transparency and interpersonal respect have to dominate as cross-system practices. This doesn’t mean that leadership has to agree with everyone. It means discussion has to be on the table and fair. These new peak performance practices have the potential to create a new and positive leadership style that I call humility of position.

It is clear that inclusion and interpersonal respect both need to be a core practice for true organizational success—for culturally sensitive approaches to staff and patients must rule. This clearly pertains to differences of many groups of staff and patients, which cannot all be listed here, such as income, gender, race, orientation, religion, disability, community, citizenship, age, etc.

As healthcare companies shift away from hospital and practitioner-based service and move to a patient-centered approach, there will be a greater need for organizational cultures that simultaneously improve the environment for knowledge workers and all staff, as they continue to revolutionize the patient experience more and more over time. Porter and Lee call this the value agenda: achieving the best outcomes at the lowest cost—that everything is ultimately about the patient2. Maintaining high-performing teams of all types requires the guidance of competent, respectful and humble leadership. Without innovative second operating systems, traditional operating systems alone will not work in future healthcare systems that are measured by the resulting metrics of patient experience, staff engagement, and key performance indicators.

Some of the most interesting ideas in business leadership are coming out of a few highly successful companies like Netflix. We cannot be sure which of these new second operating system approaches will also work in healthcare, but it is vital for leaders to be aware of innovations in other industries that are catalyzing company growth through greater staff and customer engagement.

These are exciting times. We must find, hire and groom the leaders of the future. They will be diverse, kind, smart, innovative, inclusive, fast, humble and able to build the second operating system to achieve key organizational and clinical results. These are lofty goals, but the reward will be exponentially worthwhile. This new paradigm will be appreciated by many and make it cool to be both competent and decent.

I welcome your thoughts and comments at info@flcoaching.com or 773.529.1200.

1 Pentland, A. April 2012. “The New Science of Building Great Teams.” Harvard Business Review.
2 Porter, M., and T. Lee. Oct. 2013. “The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care.” Harvard Business Review.

Accomplish Your Executive Goals By NOT Trusting Yourself

As January draws to a close, many people realize their New Year’s resolutions are falling by the wayside. Why is this such a common experience?

David DeSteno is the author of the forthcoming book The Truth About Trust.  In a recent column, he points out that you cannot really “trust” yourself to implement your goals.  He outlines his research demonstrating that goals we set for the future are often linked to emotions present when we set new objectives.  He adds that as these emotions fade, so does our drive to accomplish the original goal.

For example, at New Years you might feel overweight and want to be thinner so you resolve to have a salad at future dinners. Then, as time passes, your enthusiasm for salad fades. Even if you are successfully eating salads during the first week of January, at the start of week 2, potential distractions may arise. As you get closer to that fast food restaurant on your drive home from work, your desire for that cheeseburger grows. This distraction threatens to circumvent your ultimate goal of weight loss.

Most alarmingly, DeSteno asserts that, not only will we break these promises we make to ourselves, but we will then create a story that justifies our actions and, subsequently, forget about our failure. Why? Because we don’t want to believe that we are untrustworthy.

As an Executive Coach I am interested in the results of DeSteno’s research because so much of what I do involves setting goals with clients to achieve metric outcomes. DeSteno’s findings underscore how important it is to add interim steps to ensure that those goals are realized. One effective tool is to remind a client, or for a client to self-manage and remind him or herself, of the emotional enthusiasm they felt when they initially set their goal. Emotions fade as time passes, so the ability to reignite their present day apathy into their former passion, increases the chances of successful goal completion.

Here are a few other coaching tips to optimize successful goal completion:

  • Visualize the future and why your goal will help you in the long run.
  • Make it fun! If you are going to the gym, bring music you like.
  • Utilize task management systems and apps so they help you stay connected to your goals.
  • Set smaller, manageable goals every day that serve as stepping stones to your ultimate or what I call “BIG” goals. Breaking up a big project into smaller pieces makes it less intimidating and allows you to retain your initial optimism.
  • Enlist a friend or family member to hold you accountable.

Let me know if you have other ideas for achieving goals that have worked for you!

Warm regards,

Joe Siegler

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Effective Leaders Utilize Coaching Approaches

Coaching approaches may help leaders achieve organizational goals and increase team performance.

Leaders can utilize coaching through:

  • Focusing on each employee’s individual strengths and weaknesses
  • Recognizing the benefits of long-term learning with honest feedback.

It is often at an organization’s advantage to bring in an outside coach to work with key clients and teams.

Coaching is beneficial for companies and leaders, as it positively impacts:

  1. Individual and team productivity
  2. Leadership effectiveness
  3. Promotion of adaptive organizational values
  4. Fortification of work/life balance and contentment


Linking coaching with organizational goals can accelerate the achievement of metric outcomes.

Reference: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130821093435-117825785-don-t-write-off-the-coaching-leadership-style?trk=cha-feed-art-title


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How Stay-at-Home Moms can Successfully Return to Work

Lately, the press has been full of stories regarding the experiences of women who didn’t “lean in.” These women (regarded as the “opt-out” generation) choose to leave their high-ranking jobs in order to be stay-at-home moms. Now, ten years later, their choices have led to unexpected outcomes.

One woman stated that the tension regarding her dependence on her husband has been one of the main factors in their divorce. Other women from the opt-out generation have re-entered the workplace years later to disappointingly lower salaries and less prestigious careers. A recent study reports that 89% of women who opted out later wanted to return to work. However, only 73% of these women were able to find jobs and a mere 40% found full time jobs.1

Women who consider opting-out after childbirth must understand the changing landscape they will experience when they re-enter workforce. Upon choosing to opt-out they will most likely not be able to achieve the same prestige and salary as before. If being a stay-at-home mom is a dream of yours, you can take steps to implement a strategy that will work for you.  Many stay-at-home moms find a large amount of fulfillment in their role. The following coaching tips can assist in your transitional success:

  1. Have frequent and open discussions with your partner regarding your choice. Each party’s level of comfort should be made clear and taken into account. Families can establish a household business plan that emphasizes mutual respect.
  2. Consider careers that are easy to re-enter, such as teaching, nursing, or running a home business.
  3. Optimize your stay-at-home time by regularly volunteering or working part time. These activities will contribute to your ongoing growth, development, and your formation as a well-rounded person.
  4. Network through political, religious, alumni, or special interest groups.  These connections will prove helpful if and when you re-enter the workplace.


Organizations should take into account these women’s struggles regarding their decision, and assist in their transition back into the workplace.


1 Reference Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-generation-wants-back-in.html                      Opt-Out Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-revolution.html


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Managing with Honest Feedback to Achieve Team Performance

You may be surprised to learn that one leadership tactic that is necessary for success is the ability to deliver blunt and honest feedback. Blunt feedback can enable employees to truly grow, as it often remains on their mind for years following.

Paul English of Kayak details that when he gives performance reviews, he writes down five words, some which are positive and two or three which are very negative. With this method, he has received emails 10 years later depicting the employee’s gratitude. These emails have reinforced English’s idea that “the best way you can help someone is to be on their side and to be honest with them.”1

English additionally emphasizes the importance of small meetings. Ten people in the room is seven too many – as groups of people are often quicker to criticize. Two or three people, English believes, will nurture an idea or innovation, and give it a chance to see life.

1Source -  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/business/paul-english-of-kayak-on-nurturing-new-ideas.html



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Understanding the Struggles of Young Employees

The story of the struggling recent graduate with a liberal arts degree is often told, but a darker story – of the many 20-year-old working class men and women – is just emerging. To fully understand your organization, you should be aware of the difficulties many young hourly employees currently face.

Economic hardships and social costs are abundant in these individuals as heightened expenses force many of them to drop out of college and bounce from one temporary job to the next. For these individuals, “hidden injuries” and/or lack of parental support often delay adulthood, and contribute to skewed perceptions of trust, connection, and obligation to others. The once benchmarks of adulthood – marriage, home ownership, and steady jobs – are left unachieved, and these individuals are “cutting ties, turning inward, and numbing themselves of emotion.” 1

In addition, these working class 20-year-olds may lack the support provided by a parent’s safety net due to a variety of societal and economical issues. As leaders, we can work to more actively understand and support young hourly employees. Through patiently affirming them with helpful feedback (positive and areas of improvement), we can help these young people become effective team members with a potential for future leadership.


1Source: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/22/young-and-isolated/?_r=0



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Working vs. Stay at Home Moms

Today, more than two thirds of married mothers are employed. But does work improve a mother’s well being, or does employment stretch these mothers too thin? Do some stay-at-home moms thrive or do they generally suffer more than their working counterparts?

New research reports that stay-at-home moms have increased levels of anger and depression in comparison to working women.1 In addition, working moms have shown heightened mental and physical health at age 40. However, it is clear that some stay-at-home moms thrive and our pleased with their choice. This blog merely summarizes recent findings and trends.

New research additionally states that in regards to family life, two-earner families have demonstrated decreased rates of divorce, and maternal employment has shown no negative effects on children’s levels of intelligence.

Now it is evident that not all work is the same. Undoubtedly, women who work out of economic necessity at low paying jobs may not experience the same benefits as other working mothers.  This aside, plenty of working mothers (and their families) are reaping personal, familial, marital, and long-term benefits aided by their status of employment.

In the next blog I’ll continue the discussion with my thoughts on Cheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, as well as the tradeoffs for both working mothers and stay at home mothers.

1Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/coontz-the-triumph-of-the-working-mother.html?_r=0


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Steps for Reducing Complexity in Organizations

Recently, unnecessary complexity has been increasingly cited as a key business challenge.1
Organizations can achieve improved productivity and synergy through implementing strategies focused on simplicity. While many managers may insist they lack the time to address it, a new article provides ideas for leaders to tackle their organization’s complexity problems “in their own areas, at their own pace, in their own ways.”

These ideas include:

  1. Analyze and eliminate time wasters.
  2. “Declutter” your systems.
  3. Focus on the needs of your customers and implement strategies that will allow you to connect with them more effectively.
  4. Continually reassess priorities.
  5. Maximize efficiency by eliminating excess steps in work tasks.
  6. Reduce levels of management and micromanaging others.
  7. Delegate.
  8. And the last and most important step – repeat the above steps frequently!

1Reference:  http://blogs.hbr.org/ashkenas/2013/05/seven-strategies-for-simplifyi.html




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Alternative Approaches to Implementing Change

Is change always good? We are constantly trying to change our organizations and ourselves in order to optimize productivity and goal completion– but a new article advocates for an alternative approach.

Actually, the concept of change management may increase your degree of fear, resistance and even failure to reach outcomes. It may lead you and your fellow team members to experience loss of control and even a sense of helplessness.

So what to do? New approaches advocate involving employees in solving business problems. Problem solving can motivate change through autonomy and skill development. I often advise leaders to ask employees to link solutions to their complaints. This practice fosters and optimizes morale because it encourages taking responsibility for creating your desired work environment.

By involving team members in implementing solutions, your organization as a whole can see increased benefits, results, and synergy.

Source: Daniel Markovitz at http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/05/no_one_likes_to_be_changed.html



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Amplify Individual, Team, and Organizational Performance by Transforming Thoughts into Words and Actions

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher recently died in 2013, but her legacy will live on forever. The following quote comes from the movie Iron Lady, which was titled for her frequently uncompromising politics and leadership style.

“Watch your thoughts for they become words
Watch your words for they become actions
Watch your actions for they become habits
Watch your habits for they become your character
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think we become.”

This quote depicts how our thoughts effectively can mobilize our subsequent actions and work performance.

In our professional lives, we can become more effective individuals, teammates, and leaders by:
1. Harnessing our conscious thoughts — rather than acting upon fleeting emotions.
2. Actively using words that reflect our thoughts and can then generate goals and actions.

Once these actions are repeated over and over again, we create momentum that results in new habits and rituals, serving as the cornerstone of successful behavioral change.  By connecting our thoughts, words, and actions, we can impact our futures and achieve our true professional and personal goals we each desire.



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