The increasingly complex and rapidly changing context facing healthcare organizations, especially in an era of global pandemics, translates to a significant burden on CEOs to demonstrate strategic leadership. Setting aside time to anticipate potential threats and opportunities is tricky for many CEOs who can easily get trapped in tactical firefighting. The key is building their direct reports' capabilities, enabling them to anticipate the pressures facing the CEO.
I work with several senior healthcare leaders who have indicated their desire for their subordinates to demonstrate strategic leadership in their departments as if they were a CEO. However, in conversations I've had with middle managers, this concept is poorly understood. So what does it mean to think and act like a CEO demonstrating strategic leadership?
A hallmark of CEO functioning is strategic thinking. Strategic thinkers transcend their functional silos and can consider multiple perspectives in facing issues or challenges. CEOs vary their focus directionally in four ways: inward, downward, lateral, and upward/outward. In focusing on these directions, they consider threats, challenges, and opportunities they can exploit.
Focus inward, consisting of self-awareness and self-management, and taking responsibility for your behavior and development:
Focus downward consists of actions you take to lead and motivate your team, both the individuals who report to you and the team dynamic. Important practices include:
A lateral focus consists of your actions to engage and collaborate with your peers:
Focus upward and outward to proactively manage the relationship and concerns of your boss and external stakeholders and customers:
The road to becoming a CEO is a long one that takes persistence, resilience, and passion. Few people successfully navigate this journey. However, the essence of a CEO mindset and behavior - strategic leadership - can be incorporated into your leadership toolkit now and pay immediate returns for your career success and advancement.
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Dr. Kevin Nourse has more than 25 years of experience coaching leaders who are experiencing transitions to thrive in their new or expanded roles. He is the founder of Nourse Leadership Strategies, a coaching and leadership development firm based in Southern California. For more information, contact Kevin at 310.715.8315 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(c) 2022 Kevin Nourse