Guest Column | July 21, 2017

Four Keys to Leading Transformation

Dr. Liz

Welcome to the second edition of Dr. Liz on Leadership! Each month, I will bring you new insights, practical tools, and targeted advice to help you, your team, and your organization thrive in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment. I invite you to share comments, questions, and requests for topics you’d like me to address in future articles. Come join the conversation!

I recently attended the opening reception for the Neu Center for Supportive Medicine and Cancer Survivorship at Jefferson Health’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. It was an exciting, energizing event. We were given a tour of today’s infusion center and an artist’s rendering of the remarkably patient- and family-supportive infusion center of tomorrow. We listened to inspiring and informative presentations by philanthropists Dave and Espy Neu; President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, Dr. Stephen K. Klasko; and Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, Director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) and the Hilary Koprowski Professor and Chair of Jefferson’s Department of Cancer Biology. We learned what this new initiative is all about and discovered that it is poised to profoundly improve and broaden the approach to care for cancer patients and their families.

Here are some big picture lessons you can apply as you drive transformation of your own.

Inspiration. As a leader, your best ideas come from personal inspiration. What’s most important and relevant to you? Are you passionate about alleviating patient suffering? Making life easier for caregivers? Improving access to healthcare? Ensuring proper and appropriate pricing for medications? Improving alignment among the myriad healthcare players, including manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, hospitals, patients, insurers and regulators?

Use that inspiration to craft your vision, drive engagement among your team, and enlist partners who can help you create the future.

Collaboration. No matter how inspired you may be, you’ve got to get others onboard to build something truly transformative. Change is hard. To make it work, you’ve got to have a dedicated, diverse, creative, and aligned group of stakeholders who are all in. Consider: Who are the people, teams, and organizations best suited to support your vision, champion the cause, provide resources, and bring new and divergent thinking to the work of transformation? Get them onboard and explore ways to maximize the strengths each partner brings.

Courage. Supporting the status quo is easy. You don’t risk ruffling feathers. And you won’t need to inspire or engage others to see a different vision or try new ways of approaching existing problems. But status quo is no way to grow. It is the antithesis of innovation — and without innovation, we won’t find better ways to solve today’s problems or prepare for the opportunities and challenges of the future. Courageous leadership requires a willingness to go out on a limb and share your vision, even with those who are likely to shoot you down.

Commitment. As Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Once you’ve dreamed up a better version of the future, inspired others to join your cause, enlisted key partners, and bravely stood up to doubters and detractors, it’s time to get to work bringing your vision to life. You, your organization, and your strategic partners will need to stay the course: working diligently, remaining laser focused, and prioritizing the work amid competing demands. Transformation is no small task, and there’s no secret path to overnight success. But true, meaningful, game-changing transformation is worth the effort.

So reflect on this: What kind of transformation is needed among your team, in your company, or across the industry? What can you do today to drive a better tomorrow?