I find leadership, like entrepreneurship, to be a bit difficult to define. I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying these two executive skills and trying to dissect what the skill components are that add to up a successful leader and a successful entrepreneur. My analysis has raised the age-old question: Can leadership be taught? Can it be learned? Is it an innate quality? I’m not quite sure, but this series in Forbes says it all: Why You Can’t Teach Leadership, Can Leadership Skills Be Taught?, and Leadership Can’t Be Taught, but It Can Be Learned!
Recently, I’ve grown interested in the concept of “complexity enabling” leadership – the ability to navigate environments with great interconnectivity. The skill is the ability to bridge innovation and creating with operational and organizational structure (see Moving Leadership From Complicated To Complex and Collaboration, Connectivity & Complex Leadership).
But in my recent reading I stumbled upon yet another issue that I see as an emerging leadership issue for executives in health and human services – are health and human service leaders prepared to lead the large national telehealth-driven health and human service organizations that are emerging?
There is growing research on the challenges of remote management, global management, and virtual management – all part of the mix in health and human services (see Effective Leadership in a Virtual Workforce; Virtual Leadership: Required Competencies For Effective Leaders; Virtual Teams: Opportunities and Challenges for e-Leaders; and Leadership of Healthcare Professionals: Where Do We Stand?).
The challenges of these new environments? Lack of physical interaction, loss of face-to-face synergies, lack of trust, greater concern with predictability and reliability, and lack of social interaction. The skills needed to thrive in this new environment?
- Working in an environment with a high degree of complexity
- Establishing metrics for work projects and goal and monitoring team progress over time
- Clarity in communication with goals and directions with a constant focus on the big picture
- Promote organizational commitment at a distance
- Establishing trust in a diverse environment with multiple cultures
- Innovating and developing new ways to conduct work
- Balancing work and life with increasing 24/7 accessibility
Looking ahead, I can see this “virtual leadership'” skill set as another important ingredient in the success of health and human service organizations. The question is how to build that leadership pipeline.
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