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Inspiring Leaders in an Environment of Change

Rapid organizational change can be both exciting and unsettling at the same time. HealthInsight has experienced its share of this kind of rapid change in the past few years—so much so that exciting and unsettling seems to describe just about every day around here. We've seen:

  • Significant corporate growth, most recently by expanding our programs into Oregon and into End-Stage Renal Disease work.
  • Challenging new initiatives on top of our already large portfolio of work for the Medicare program—including but not limited to helping improve the quality of care in Indian Health Service hospitals across the nation, integrating behavioral health screening into primary care and preparing Medicare providers for value-based payment.
  • Regionalization of several of our programs, requiring new ways of engaging stakeholders and coordinating regional activities while maintaining essential local focus.
  • Persistent and pervasive uncertainty and change in the health care environment we seek to influence.

This rapid change in our organization and in the world is very likely to continue into the future as well. But the pace and intensity of efforts to keep up and reinvent our organization has led at times to "change fatigue," similar to the burnout that many of our stakeholders have reported experiencing as they implement multiple, simultaneous and sometime overlapping quality improvement activities.

In order to work through this fatigue, keep momentum and continue to meet the substantial demands of our clients and our stakeholders in local communities, we need inspiration, planning and coordination, and a culture of continuous learning. In short, we need leadership. Of course, as the CEO, I like to think we already have leadership. But I also know we now need, and will continue to need, better and broader and different leadership to go forward.

Creating a corporate culture of inspiration, excellence and learning will require all of the following types of leaders:

  • Transformational leaders with a clear vision and the energy and passion to inspire followers to internalize that vision. These leaders understand that strong culture depends on vision. They challenge the status quo and encourage followers to explore new ways of doing business. They make colleagues feel comfortable in sharing ideas, and they recognize each person's contribution to the team effort. They serve as trusted role models for colleagues to emulate in their day-to-day work.
  • Transactional leaders who ensure completion of intentional activities that support the organizational vision. These leaders are often overlooked and undervalued. They focus on traditional managerial concepts of supervision, organization and group performance, and using behavioral approaches to motivate, encourage and develop team members. This leadership style works to address problems, simplify and clarify roles and assignments, and keeps us focused on defined targets.
  • Leaders at all levels. Like other companies, HealthInsight needs to develop multiple generations of leaders who can innovate and inspire others to perform while adapting to rapid changes in technology and business models. Beyond simply having an array of training programs, building a broad and deep leadership team takes sustained investment and adaptability. Paths to leadership need to be flexible enough to enable leaders to develop in different ways. Senior leaders need to be prepared to put potential new leaders in positions that stretch their current skill sets—even in situations where they may fail—and to coach and support them through the learning process.

Leadership is the essential and most in demand resource in any organization. This is true now more than ever. I believe HealthInsight has many of the vital cultural components in place to thrive in this new, rapidly changing world, but we can never stop learning and never stop working to pass this culture along to the next generation of leaders as well. There are no shortcuts.



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