We’re excited to publish our first guest blog post by Major General (Ret’d) Lise Mathieu. Check out her incredible insight aligned with the LEADS leadership framework.
Major-General (Ret’d) Lise Mathieu, CMM, CHE is the past Director General Health Services and Commander of the Canadian Forces Health System. She is a certified executive coach, facilitator and change leadership expert with depth of experience in medical system strategy and operations.
On LEADS …
When I think back, one of my biggest leadership challenges has to have been leading the transformation of the Canadian Forces Medical Service into a vertically integrated medical and dental Health System. Leadership is ‘All About People’ I often said throughout my professional life, and if you work in a service industry, ‘people’ very much include your clients, customers, patients, those who support them etc. Using the tools of the time, we launched into a profound cultural transformation. Twelve years hence, I can honestly say that had the LEADS Capability Framework been around at the time, I would not have hesitated using it as the foundation upon which to build the transformation.
- LEAD SELF
- ENGAGE OTHERS
- ACHIEVE RESULTS
- DEVELOP COALITIONS
- SYSTEM TRANSFORMATION
LEADS is a particularly powerful acronym. First, it builds on self awareness, self management. Wait. I am getting ahead of myself.
Situate yourself at the center of your universe and reach outward. You quickly contact ‘people’: family members, neighbors, friends, teachers, professors, colleagues, subordinates, supervisors, municipal, provincial, and federal authorities; and the list goes on. At the centre of it all is you and the way you interact with them all.
In the developmental process of your journey from childhood to adulthood, you very quickly learn that certain behaviors will result in good things happening to you whereas other actions will not. As you become increasingly self-aware, you learn to develop and manage yourself to fit in, to elicit the right response, and to be happy. It is not enough to fit in and to keep up if you have to become someone you are not to be accepted. Your character takes shape. Ultimately, as your world expands to include more people and becomes more challenging, you LEAD SELF – to fit in, to keep up, to elicit the right responses, to remain true to yourself, to be happy.
The more you progress, the more complex your world becomes. You are increasingly on your own and interacting with peers who, like you, are trying to find their place in society. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. You should discover how important it is to communicate effectively. Eventually, you realize that effective listening is key. You continue to move forward both as an individual and with your peers.
As a young adult, social interactions become much more complicated. There are a growing number of people in your circle of life. Whether you lead or follow, you recognize there are objectives to be met, goals to be achieved and you are but one cog in a big wheel that keeps on turning whether you are ready or not. Through experience, you discover the power of teams. You start to think about what it takes to build teams that will be successful and grow together. You are still very much in the LEAD SELF mode but, increasingly, you ENGAGE OTHERS.
Thing is, you may be in a leadership role now and have people who depend on you. Given your understanding of the task at hand and the availability of resources, you set directions, you make decisions aligned to your organization mission, vision and values. You take action, you assess and evaluate outcomes. You are accountable and you hold yourself to that. Fundamentally, you are still in LEAD SELF and ENGAGE OTHERS mode but you are growing into a goal oriented leader who wants to ACHIEVE RESULTS.
Up to now, I have kept my comments on generic individual development and leadership. For the remainder of this post, I will focus my comments on leadership in the healthcare field where complexity is reality.
Healthcare is a system of systems. Your commitment to ACHIEVE RESULTS requires careful assessment as little can be changed without impacting others. Who, what, when, where and how will the impact be felt? Is it within your power to effect this particular change? As you gain clarity on these questions, you realize that to continue to ACHIEVE RESULTS you need to purposely build partnerships and networks, demonstrate commitment to customer and to service. You must expand knowledge and, you be politically astute to negotiate and mobilize support. Here you are in LEAD SELF, ENGAGE OTHERS and ACHIEVE RESULTS modes. To continue to progress and grow, you must now DEVELOP COALITIONS. Contrary to popular belief, this is not solely the domain of CEOs. It happens throughout the organization, at every level, when one team’s work affects others in a way that is different from the expected outcomes.
System’s thinking is a key reality in healthcare leadership. One commonly made mistake is to assume that system’s thinking is the purview of the strategic level of leadership. Whereas it is certainly present at the strategic level, the fact is that it permeates all levels and facets of the healthcare reality. A doctor’s office is but a system within a system. A small clinic is but a system within a system. System’s thinking is something that we ought to practice at every organizational level on an ongoing basis. The extent to which we do so and the amount of time spent on system’s issues will certainly grow as we progress to the highest levels. System’s thinking is every leader’s business. Ergo every leader needs to demonstrate system / critical thinking, encourage and support innovation, orient to the future and champion and orchestrate change. In the end, as a successful health care leader, you are in LEAD SELF, ENGAGE OTHERS, ACHIEVE RESULTS, DEVELOP COALITIONS AND SYSTEM TRANSFORMATION mode.
I believe LEADS to be so intrinsically representative of how we evolve and grow as individuals in society that I would not have hesitated to use it as the foundation upon which to orchestrate the transformation journey of the Canadian Forces Health System. Healthcare is all about people: those who provide healthcare, who support healthcare and who consume healthcare. It is not about things. As the number of people increases, so does complexity. It is inevitable. Healthcare is complex. As a leader you need to LEAD SELF always. When we talk about a vision of the future, that future is new for you too. You are a product of your past, ergo you have baggage. You need to grow into the future vision just like the people around you. You need to keep all your stakeholders engaged so that you progress and mature ‘together’ towards the new vision. You need to achieve results while maintaining a delicate balance between your clients and organization, in spite of the chaotic reception often ensuing from change. You need to build coalitions to ensure that in trying to implement a better future, you don’t become everybody else’s problem. And, you need to think system as, irrespective of where you stand in the organization, you are but a system within a system.
As individuals develop, so does the organization. With LEADS, everything starts with the individual and ends with the individual, and how he / she LEADs SELF in good times and in bad. Embrace LEADS. After all, you have been doing it all along!
Major-General (Ret’d) Lise Mathieu, CMM, CHE is the past Director General Health Services and Commander of the Canadian Forces Health System. She is a certified executive coach, facilitator and change leadership expert with depth of experience in medical system strategy and operations. Feel free to contact Lise via email: firstname.lastname@example.org