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Your New Chief

By Earnest J Davis Jr, FACHE, CHEF President-Elect

The new guy is only one promotion, one retirement, one unforeseen exit away.? Very few leaders in healthcare administration are going to make it through their entire career with the same one-up.? Whether it is through your own transition or a new archetype in your existing organization, the challenge of learning a new leadership reality will confront most of us at some point.? Having recently encountered this circumstance myself, here are a few points of reflection I found helpful in building that new relationship for future success.

Appreciate the challenge.? It is far too easy to find yourself in a managerial pattern where true leadership is forgone in favor of meetings, reporting, and emails.? Inserting a new and perhaps unknown quantity can be the catalyst for change in you, your areas of responsibility, and the organization as a whole.? Embrace the opportunity to break out of the monotony and present new ideas, fresh analysis, and novel approaches to stale problems.? There is no need to play the same role you have served on your team in the past as the dynamic of the team has changed anyway.? This is a fresh start for you just as it is for them so don?t let the opportunity for re-invention pass you buy.

Understand your similarities and differences.? Most often looking at your one-up is not going to be like gazing into a mirror.? Just as you have had to learn the complexities of co-workers and subordinates you will have to learn what makes your new chief tick. A personality typing exercise such as the Meyers-Briggs has the potential to not only illustrate similarities among team members but also provide tools for effective working relationships among different personality types.

Bolster your stance with data.? Your new manager will expect and most likely appreciate your ability to provide history regarding the organization and its many moving parts.? Making introductions and touring the facility are great ways to establish a baseline for the new leader, but moving beyond current state will require identification of the leader?s future state and harvesting a gap analysis for improvement.? It can be comfortable basing the analysis and plans on what you know, but your new boss will appreciate working with what you can prove.? Use data, statistics and industry research wherever possible to reinforce your viewpoints and suggestions.

Lean on your mentors.? Never has your mentor been more valuable than at this time.? Your new one-up will be fully engrossed in learning the organization?s culture and developing the way forward while concurrently adjusting to their new employment situation.? The less time the new leader has to devote to your needs, the more time he can allocate to their new job duties.? Use your existing relationship with a trusted advisor to develop ideas before presentation problem-solve before escalation.? Hopefully the new chief will grow into the mentorship role for you after gaining their footing.? Until then, lean on your professional organization and established personal advisers for growth and development.

Let your guard down.?? If they?re going to replace you, it?s just going to happen.? Hoarding information, hiding behind your counterparts, or being silent through the storm is not going to help position you to avoid the proverbial axe.? Speak up in meetings where you have something to add. Share your wins as well as your losses, including what you learned from each.? Don?t be afraid to schedule coffee or a beer and get to know the new guy as a person.? They will appreciate the opportunity to be themselves just as much as you will gain from an improved collegial relationship.


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