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  • Writer's pictureStephen Harden

Who Makes the Best Healthcare Leader?

Those Whose Motivation for Being a Leader is Giving not Getting

“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” — Joe Polish

Most people are only focused on what they can get out of life. Average leaders concentrate on the pay, the perks, the prestige, or the power. Their focus is me, me, me.

However, you really begin to grow in effectiveness as a leader when your desire shifts from merely receiving – getting the benefits of a leadership position - to giving – focusing on how you can benefit others, especially those that work for you.

You’ll realize that, as a leader, it’s actually far more satisfying to give than to get.

Moreover, your leadership actions will be driven by a cause you fully believe in – helping others grow and benefit.

The truth is, leaders really must chose from one of two possible orientations towards the people they work with. Choice One is to enter your leader/follower relationships as TRANSACTIONS. Choice Two is to enter those work relationships as TRANSFORMATIONS.

Most people, and thus most leaders, have transactional relationships. They’re focused only on what they get out of the relationship. The question they are always mentally asking themselves is, “What can this person do for me to help me get my job done.” Every relationship is all about furthering the leader’s agenda. Transactional relationships are rooted in scarcity, which means the leader is always thinking, “Only one of us can win.” It’s selfish, and demoralizing for your direct reports.

This isn’t how you get far in relationships or in your work life. You cannot be successful as a leader without others. You will soon figure out that you need your employees more than they need you. Transactional leaders have a hard time creating a culture of safety or accountability.

Transformational relationships, on the other hand, are completely focused on giving and gratitude — the hallmarks of abundance. Whatever you give away to others in praise, credit, help, and coaching will come back to you in abundance.

In these sorts of relationships, the whole becomes more than the sum of parts. Both parties, in vulnerability and trust, transcend their own selfishness and become something more.

At the core, transformational relationships require being a giver, not a taker.

As Adam Grant has explained in his book, Give and Take, when two givers come together, the results are astronomical. It is amazing what can be accomplished in safety, quality, and cost effectiveness in your unit or service line when no one cares who gets the credit. Be a giver and give the credit away. You'll be amazed at the culture of safety you can create when you do.

When your motivation is to give, you’ll often get insights about how you can improve your relationships. Random thoughts will pop into you head to send “Thank you” texts to various people.

You’ll have more ideas about how you can improve other people’s lives and and the work they do. You will remind yourself constantly, “Be a blessing to someone today.”

When you approach your leadership position from this mindset, you’ll see more opportunities to contribute, more success with each opportunity, which will lead to even more opportunities and deeper relationships. People you lead will come to love and trust you.

Most importantly, your work will be motivated by a higher cause and thus will be far more inspired and impactful. Isn’t this why you became a healthcare leader to begin with?

Action Step: Think of someone on your team for whom you could offer a word of praise, coach, mentor, or provide effective feedback. Go do it. Today.

Go Deeper: Read The Servant Leader

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