Tuesday, April 17, 2012
On Sunday, at the National Council Mental Health and Addictions Conference in Chicago, I conducted a session on leadership titled Creating and Leading A Team in Times of Change , which looked at the skills and competencies required to effectively lead an organization in a rapidly changing health and human services market. The session was lively, and the attendees provided a lot of great insights that I hadn’t considered before. Three main themes emerged from our discussion:
1. Many executives feel that the rate of change in our field is greater now than ever before. One attendee said that although he has been a CEO for over 30 years, he has never seen the environment change as rapidly as it is now – and he doesn’t see any let up from this relentless pace in the coming years. For all leaders of service provider organizations, this means that possessing superior change management skills is a must. And, effective leaders must find working in this rapidly changing environment fun; your organization cannot afford for you to think about this as simply something that has to be endured until you retire (see Don’t Just Sit There: Change! ).
2. Getting staff on board with the need for change is both critical, and an ongoing process. Leaders must have a clear vision for the future, but that alone is not enough. Effective leaders must engage the entire organization in a process of continuous improvement. This includes clearly identifying the organization’s vision and values; hiring the right people, whose skills and values match the needs of the organization; providing staff the needed tools and information needed to succeed; and streamlining procedures and processes so that staff can most effectively do their jobs (see Will Your Culture Eat Your Strategy For Lunch? all members).
3. Effective change management at the senior management team level is not enough. For the vast majority of staff in an organization, their day-to-day to manager is not a member of the senior team, but rather a middle manager. In the human services industry, most mid-level managers were promoted into these positions because of their outstanding clinical skills, and have had little or no management training. In the rapidly changing world of today and the indefinite future, providing these managers the training and coaching needed to develop critical management and leadership skills is no longer a luxury – it is a critical necessity (see What’s Your Iceberg? all members).
Rapid transformation may be the defining characteristic of this era in health and human services. With these three themes in mind, you should ask yourself – How will you lead and inspire team members at all levels of your organization to take best advantage of that change (see Managing Change as a Leader’s Challenge all members)?
John F. Talbot, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President, OPEN MINDS
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