Alone, we can do so little. Together, we can do so much

I taught this week at the Organization of Nurse Leaders’ Leadership Academy. My topic is Organizational Cultural – Change from Within. I love working with nurse leaders.  Those who supervise the front line in healthcare have the most difficult job in healthcare be they nurses, therapists, doctors, support staff or other direct care workers. So much responsibility without commensurate authority or resources. Two issues stood out working with this week’s group: They often say, but it’s outside of my control. And they often feel alone.

I found myself thinking, oh, get over it but saying,  nobody feels like they have control in healthcare. Not the President, not CEOs, not unions, not your bosses, not the people you care for and support. No one. It’s no wonder that so many feel powerless. The payment structure doesn’t make sense. We measure much, know little, and spend way too much time and money measuring. And we focus too much on medical treatment and not enough on what’s important – people’s health journey to meet their health goals.  Listen to Don Berwick at the 2015 IHI conference. All I can say to the Academy attendees is that you most control yourself and the culture of your team. Select one, two or three things that you have a passion to change and focus on those. Be mindful, tactical, and enlist people who have your passion and have fun during the adventure. That led to the second issue: feeling alone. As I talked with them about considering working with their boss and finding peers to partner with, I realized that I was missing finding members of their team and families to partner with. As I traveled my career path from staff nurse to vice president, I treasure those bosses that trusted me, mentored me, learned from me, supported me in my schemes to improve something, and helped me stay and get out of trouble.  As a leader, I most value times that I can trust, mentor, support and learn from my staff and the people we care for and support. I love seeing my staff grow and surpass me. I love hearing how people and their caregivers would improve the care and service provided by my team. When the going gets tough, it’s my staff I’ve had the most fun with. It’s a gas!

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much – Helen Keller

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