Posted January 29, 2018

COACHING MINUTE: Are You a Highly Reliable Leader?

By Vikki Choate, MSN, R.N., NEA-BC, CCM, CPHQ

Leaders on a journey to excellence are likely familiar with the term "hardwired". Hardwired means that, as individuals and teams, we have adopted an important behavior, such as Leader Rounding on Employees, that we conduct with a high rate of regularity. The behavior just becomes part of what we do. Leaders on this journey are typically aware that the term "hardwired" does provide some cushion for less than 100-percent execution. When we focus on all the behaviors we are expected to complete each month, it can be easy to slip into a check-box mentality, allowing ourselves to feel that we are on track with expectations when we've hit at least 90 percent of our target.

What if we want to be highly reliable leaders? Is there a difference between a "hardwired" and a "highly reliable" leader? If high reliability means zero defects, then are we highly reliable when we allow ourselves that cushion to complete most (but not all) of our staff rounding (or any other expected behavior)? When we ponder these questions, it becomes clear that thinking in terms of highly reliable leadership may reveal opportunities to think and do differently.

Let's explore a few quick tips to ensure you are as highly reliable a leader as you want to be!

  • Renew your commitment to excellence. No one said that this would be easy, and it’s important to acknowledge the barriers you are facing. That said, the most effective plans are rooted in a firm personal commitment. It’s okay if you need to recommit every day… many of us do!
  • Make your calendar your best friend. If we don’t carve out the time to complete our rounding, we stand little chance of achieving our goals. Dedicate time on your calendar for must-do leadership behaviors (like rounding) as you would for staff meetings, etc. Many of the most successful, highly reliable leaders lean heavily on their calendars to ensure they meet all expectations.
  • Delegate where and what you can. Believing we need to do everything is a slippery slope for leaders. Consider this: you need more time to complete high-priority tasks, and you have staff who are eager to add more value and take on more responsibility. Isn’t this a match made in heaven?
  • Fully leverage your 90-day plan. Include rounding and other leadership behaviors in your 90-day plan, and review it with your leader during your monthly supervisory meetings (Monthly Meeting Model) rigorously. This level of self-accountability will really serve you well.

Our staff depend heavily on us to be present, to be effective and to be efficient. They want to have positive relationships with us, and they want to contribute and add value. Consider where you are on the continuum between a "hardwired" and a "highly reliable" leader, and take the next step by trying some of the quick tips above. You and your team deserve it.


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