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

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


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


Should I Stay or Should I Sell?

For many entrepreneurs, it’s hard when deciding to sell part or all of their company. The New York Times piece, “Why It’s So Difficult for Entrepreneurs to Head for the Exit,” had a Q&A with, Paul Spiegelman about his reluctance to sell a company he built from the ground up. His story serves as a mirror for those in the same position. For Spiegelman and for fellow entrepreneurs, selling a company often goes beyond a paycheck.

Spiegelman considered handing over his company to investors for the sake of growth and fresh capital. Though he saw the advantage of an outside investor, the possible damage to the brand of his company was too big a risk. For those in the same position, it means looking at yourself as much as you look at your business.

There are some coaching tips to help those who are in the process of making one of the hardest decisions as an entrepreneur:

  • Ask yourself what you want as an entrepreneur. Do you think it’s time for you to move on? Do you have any interests beyond your company you’d like to seriously pursue? Is there more you want to do with your company?
  • Weigh the risk vs. reward of selling part or total control of your company. For instance, it could be useful to have outside investors with useful capital and new ideas. But it also might mean less or no say on company strategy.
  • Consider the doubts about selling. Would you regret it? What would you not want to have happen to your company if you were to sell? Would you feel better leaving it in the hands of a relative? Do you still want to work part-time?

Speigelman made his decision based on what he wanted for his company. In a decision like this, find out your priorities and be confident in your final decision, even if your answer is “no.” Sometimes capital is not a “good enough” reason to sell.

A Malleable Personal Brand

This month’s Harvard Business Review contains an excellent article for anyone’s career development called “Reinventing Your Personal Brand.” The article discusses how you can alter others’ perceptions of your personal and professional story as it applies to your career. As you try to climb the corporate ladder guided by your ambitions and your own ideas of what you could do, you will find that people instead judge you based on your past work. Reinventing your personal brand allows you to change what others look at when assessing your prior accomplishments and perhaps see you in a more positive light.

The list of five tips that the article gives is:

  1. Define your destination – Make a plan of where you want your career to go and develop the skills necessary to get there.
  2. Leverage your points of difference – Pick out what makes you stand out and learn to use it to your advantage.
  3. Develop a narrative – Frame your previous experience in an interesting way that will make you the right choice for the job.
  4. Reintroduce yourself – In addition to making new contacts with your new brand, update your old ones on who you are becoming.

At Full Life, one of the most common services we provide is next-phase career coaching, and the above tips are a great introduction to our approach.

How will you bring your unique talents to a job? Develop your personal brand to quickly present yourself to others.

How could you re-do your personal brand?


The New Collaborative Office Space

A recent business trend has been towards more collaboration among colleagues, and a recent New York Times article “Office Work Space Is Shrinking, but That’s Not All Bad” explores this trend’s effect on the size of work spaces. As companies seek to cut unnecessary spending, they move into smaller office spaces, and one positive result is that fewer walls are present between employees, and space limitations require more shared tables and fewer desks. As a result, the new office atmosphere is much more collaborative, with employees being less tied to their respective desks, and more free to move about and work with others. It’s a very interesting example of innovation resulting from other needs.

This new office atmosphere is much better, both for productivity and aesthetics. Not only will employees be more willing and able to collaborate effectively, but the death of ugly cubicles is a welcome change and makes the office a more warm place to work. Even though the impetus is to cut space and expenses, the shared open spaces can look like modern French cafés with wifi and shared large tables and sitting areas. The atmosphere is more social, less isolating, and fosters connection and communication on projects across departments.

Some additional things to consider:

  • If it’s needed, is there some private space for employees to use temporarily?
  • Similarly, do the employees have private spaces to keep their files, notes, and office supplies?
  • Does the WiFi work easily with different laptops?

The end of cubicles would be a great thing for all concerned. The new office environment is collaborative and interactive, and the new office space should reflect this movement.

What are your thoughts?


Both Fun and Discipline are Keys to an Effective Budget

A New York Times article titled “Why A Budget is Like a Diet—Ineffective” discusses some ways that modern budgets don’t work and how to fix that. A major reason that budgets are ineffective is that they turn saving money into a chore that isn’t any fun.

The comparison between a budget and a diet made in the title is interesting, because it relates to my coaching for weight control with some clients. I’ve long felt that living within your means, whether with respect to calories or finances, should be kept effective and fun with occasional opportunities to disregard the restrictions.

Here are some of my tips on how to make a budget last:

  1. Pick a purpose for which you’re saving. A vacation, a new house, a new car, or even and important goal, are good examples. This will make your savings more concrete and real, instead of just a number on your computer screen.
  2. Splurge every once in a while. I coach dieters to pick one night a week to eat out and go off the calorie budget a little, so that the process of restraint doesn’t seem so endless. The same goes for limiting your spending. Set aside a little bit of money to pick something you’ll really enjoy and that will make the most of your money.
  3. Spend money on experiences, not things. Experiences will be all the more rewarding because they’ll bring you closer to those you are with and they will make memories that will last longer than simple items might. Go to concerts with friends or loved ones, go on a remote hiking or canoeing trip, or pick an exciting vacation destination. Focus on building memories, not acquiring possessions.
  4. Split your money into separate accounts: for fixed expenses, saving, unforseen urgent expenses, and luxury expenses. As the article states, it’s more beneficial to set aside a little money for luxuries than to take small amounts from your fixed or urgent budget. This helps limit unnecessary spending and whatever you don’t spend can either be rolled into the rest of your budget or saved for the next month’s luxury budget.

Remember that achieving budget control depends on having fun and continuing to have some luxuries over time.

What are your thoughts?


More New Resources for Entrepreneurs

Last Tuesday, the New York Times ran an article about a kitchen for rent in New York City called “A Kitchen-for-Rent Is a Lifeline for the Laid-Off.” The article explores the benefits offered by the very interesting new business: underfunded chefs and aspiring restauranteurs without access to a kitchen of their own can pay reasonable prices to use top-of-the-line facilities by the hour to either practice their skills or cook up products to sell. The kitchen facilities include just about every basic appliance needed in a modern kitchen, and is kept very clean and in good repair.

This article has three areas of interest for me: for one, it’s a great way to save money and gain experience when starting out specifically in the restaurant industry. Secondly, it’s a great example of the expanded resources available to entrepreneurs afforded by the internet and new levels of creativity. Third, it’s an excellent example of a very unique idea for a business that creatively fulfills a market need while providing an excellent service.

As an entrepreneur myself, I can attest to the merits of services similar to this one. Last week I published a blog post about young entrepreneurs creating their own jobs just out of college, making do with low bank rolls by utilizing internet resources to save money. This is another example of a resource, and proof that it’s not only young entrepreneurs that are taking advantage of the new business world’s opportunities.

Here are a few options to consider while ruminating on entrepreneurial endeavors:

  1. Are there hourly resources for me to utilize like the kitchen-for-rent? Think about a potentially expensive necessity required by your business idea and find out if there’s a cheap way to outsource the investment by renting it or only using it hourly.
  2. Consider how long you’ll have to take advantage of these resources. Will it just be temporary while you build the capital to pay for your own? Or will it by the permanent business model? I, for example, rented an hourly distinguished mailing address and meeting space in Chicago when just starting out with Full Life before moving to our current office in Lincoln Park. You should consider how long this arrangement will last early on in the process.
  3. Calculate which arrangement will be more pragmatic. If you’re planning on keeping the enterprise up for such a long time that it would save you money to, for example, put together your own kitchen, then consider that option.
  4. Don’t be afraid to adapt your plans as events transpire. If business takes off more than expected, consider flexible rental agreements so you can be flexible in how you expand over time.

These types of creative resources have made starting a business easier than ever before, and those with business ideas should re-examine choices with these possibilities in mind.

What are your thoughts?


Entepreneurial Solution to Job Shortages

If you’re like millions of new college graduates, you’re having a very hard time finding a job now that you’re out of school. Unemployment is high, and competition for the few open entry-level positions is fierce. Is there a better way?

This Sunday’s New York Times article “No Jobs? Young Graduates Make There Own” explores and often-overlooked option: entrepreneurialism. More and more college graduates are starting their own entrepreneurial projects and taking advantage of specific market niches. This is made possible by the internet, which has made starting a business cheaper than ever before.

Actually, I think this is a great idea for all people having trouble finding a more conventional job. As an entrepreneur myself, I can speak to how rewarding the undertaking is if it’s managed right. Here are some of my tips to potential entrepreneurs just getting their start:

  1. Plan on something simple with high demand for your products or services in the marketplace.
  2. If you don’t have an idea already, start brainstorming with what you know.
  3. Use a shoestring budget to make the most of your limited resources. Save money wherever you can.
  4. Take advantage of all shared or open resources afforded to you, including the Young Entrepreneurial Council started by the entrepreneur at the center of the NYT article.
  5. Do as much of the work needed by your company by yourself. Use open-source software and anything free to save money. The article mentions entrepreneurs teaching themselves HTML and using free online resources so that they could design their websites themselves without hiring a web designer.
  6. Set up a professional “front’ office by using a hourly office service. This is especially useful for startups, especially since they have hourly rates for conference rooms and phone answering services. Most major cities have services like this, including New York City and Chicago.

Though entrepreneurialism is always a risky enterprise, now is the time to take a shot if you’re young and serious about your idea. It’s a difficult way of life, but the best if you learn to love it.

What are your thoughts?


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