Keep Leadership Simple with Business Acumen

Season #1

This morning as I walk along the beautiful shore in Rincon, Puerto Rico, I'm focusing on keeping leadership simple.

What popped into my mind this morning is when I was working at a large medical center, and I was consulting to the Chief Nursing Officer, working with her managers.

Nurse managers are accountable for an immense number of metrics. And, generally speaking, they feel overwhelmed by the demands to deliver on all of them. This might sound familiar to you in your job.

And of course the demands that they were accountable for delivering trickled down to individual contributors and rolled up to the performance of the Chief Nursing Officer.

My job was to teach nurse managers to be stronger managers. Especially, given that most of them have a professional identity as nurses, it was a challenge in many cases for them to think of themselves as managers.

Leadership is Simple, But it's not Easy

In the spirit of keeping it simple, I used my definition of leadership to help them understand that leadership is simple, even though it's not easy. 

During their leadership development experiences we work together focusing them on getting clear about the outcomes that they had to deliver and sustain how to effectively engage with their staffs to do that. And on what personal greatness they would stand during their actions and interactions.

Now, going back to the metrics, how we kept it simple was using the virtuous business cycle model. To categorize metrics into four basic buckets.

  • Metrics like patient satisfaction scores, and patient safety scores, went into a bucket that had to do with customer and consumer outcomes,
  • Documented medication errors, and staff overtime went into a budget that went into a bucket focused on return, meaning expenses and revenue  and velocity.

There were two other buckets where their actions and the actions of their teams and the related metrics indirectly rolled up to other responsible areas.

This is an effective way for you to think about your role.

And it's based on two things:

  1. Understanding what leadership is and that leadership manifests at every level and
  2. Understanding your business. In other words, developing your business acumen.

 Your job can feel complex and overwhelming, but these are two useful ways of keeping it simple.

So let's Recap

First, because leadership manifests at every level, it's important to think about your role as requiring three essential behaviors:

  1. Identifying the outcomes and related metrics that you're responsible for delivering,
  2. Interacting effectively with others. who are colleagues in the delivery of those metrics and
  3. Tapping your personal greatness in those interactions.

This helps keep your role as a leader, whether you're an individual contributor, manager or executive, clear and simple, although executing it might not be easy.

The second is to use, the second is to use the virtuous business cycle model that we teach in Build Business Acumen to get clear about why the metrics you are responsible for are important and how they roll up to key business outcomes.

So what's a woman to do?

Pick one. 

  • Every day this week, think about yourself  as a leader and set intentions for how you're going to move outcomes forward, who you will engage with effectively to do that, and what personal greatness you'll tap in those interactions.
  • Your second option is to work to gain a clearer understanding of why your metrics matter and how they roll up through the organization to key business outcomes. One easy way to do this is ask your manager about how your key performance indicators are reflected in his or hers.

Let me know which one you choose and how you do.

These and many, many more tips and concepts and tools are available to you in the Build Business Acumen course.

Click the link below to find out more about it, and I hope I'll see you there.

This is Susan Colantuono. 

Catch you next time.

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Podcast produced and original theme music by Megan Tuck