Even in the height of the healthy season, when your team is functioning like a well-oiled machine and the appointment book is full and your billing is in great shape, running a medical practice is never easy.
So in this moment? Wow.
Clearly, those in the healthcare industry have plenty to think about these days. It’s not unusual to go from overwhelmed to determined to worried to hopeful, all in a single day.
But adversity isn’t all bad! In fact, according to our leadership coach, Bill Munn, some powerful opportunities actually appear in times like these.
Since Bill approaches adversity very differently than most people, we thought this a good time to bring him in for a guest post.
We’ll let him take it from here.
Hand-off to Bill: Leadership in Adversity
It’s completely normal to get caught in the weeds during seasons of change and unpredictability. But in times like these, big-picture responsibilities are more important that ever—responsibilities like leadership, motivation, and encouragement.
In fact, keeping your team’s morale high—keeping them engaged, focused, and passionate about quality service—is one of your most powerful means of maintaining the health of your practice.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
In fact, leadership in difficult times can prove as challenging as it is essential. So I’m breaking it down for you.
Here’s the first step:
Drop the focus on overcoming adversity. Instead, tune into the unique opportunities that actually emerge (in big ways!) during tough times.
Yes, you read that right.
Problems actually unleash 7 powerful forces for growth in your business and your team members. When you tune into these often unrecognized opportunities, you open yourself and your practice up to a world of potential, positioning yourself to tap into possibilities that others often miss.
Let’s look at each of these forces briefly:
1. Challenges Reward Natural Strengths
Have you ever noticed that when the going gets tough, you go with your gut?
It sounds like a cheesy cliché, but it’s not a cliché at all. It’s just something that I wrote right here. And it won’t catch on, because too few people recognize its importance.
But you can recognize it.
In times of ease and prosperity, we’re more likely to
- Consider choices and actions
- Seek information and feedback
- Weigh the options
These are wonderful things, and well suited to such seasons. (Although, with so much room to overthink things, we often do just that.)
In challenging times, however, when our conscious brain is busy processing the here-and-now, we lack the “luxuries” of ample time or brain space. So our instincts take over more often than they otherwise would.
Why does this matter? 2 key reasons:
- It keeps us functioning in our areas of greatest strength, bringing our power-alley attributes to the surface by default. Which keeps us extremely effective.
- When the people on our teams are functioning in this way, they’re not only working from their areas of strength, but also revealing those strengths more clearly to the people around them. And understanding your team members’ power-alley attributes is like a leadership super power.
2. Challenges Expose Weaknesses
In the midst of a mess, it’s extremely difficult to hide what’s weak or broken in your team, organization, procedures, or anything else.
Remember the old adage “when it rains it pours?” Too true. When things get messy, all the messes come out.
Here we are, in the midst of a very challenging time. The storm has blown in, and even if it has yet to pass, we can still start to see what’s not weathering well. Trees are blown down. The beach is washed away. The camouflage is torn to shreds.
What’s left? Exposed weakness.
And once you know what’s broken, you know what you need to fix.
Sure, it hasn’t been easy or particularly fun to find this out. But you never would have found out so quickly without the storm. In fact, you may never have found out at all.
And there’s a potential twofer coming next:
When you start working on these areas of weakness, the fixes might lead to some resolution for today’s problem. Great! But they will also almost certainly help you make the upgrades and repairs that will help avert disaster in the future.
So when the next storm hits? You’ll be ready.
3. Challenges Reveal Opportunities
Something that you thought was inconsequential might actually be an opportunity, but you won’t see that until force reveals it.
The best way to understand this is to look at examples. The friend who started his own company because he lost a job. The colleague whose experience with a toxic leader led her to a new, far more fulfilling role.
And what about famous examples of adversity?
- Thomas Edison’s story of facing a huge challenge with an eye on opportunity
- Winston Churchill’s example of leadership in incredibly difficult times—particularly poignant in our current situation
- The lessons imparted to the whole world by Nelson Mandela, whose servant leadership emerged amidst almost unimaginable obstacles
The examples are almost infinite.
Here’s a fun way to gather some of these stories and get inspired in the process: use your quarantine to launch a week-long Motivating Movie Marathon, where every night features a story that specifically shows opportunity emerging from adversity. (Click here for a week-long watch list.)
4. Challenges Kill Old Habits
Let’s say you have a habit of clicking on every e-mail you get, the instant you get it.
Most days, you don’t even recognize the productivity suck that this lack of prioritization causes. (Not to mention the amount of time you lose addressing un-ripe problems.)
But on a day when you’re dealing with an immediate crisis, your inbox fills up because you simply don’t have time to open every e-mail instantly. To keep your head above water and deal with the crisis, you must prioritize and check e-mail at a set time, rather than as it comes in.
And so you kick that tyrannical e-mail habit to the curb, where it belongs; you change the bad habit much faster than you ever could have without the pressure of a problem.
Again, without the adversity, you would never have even identified this issue, let alone understood its impact and practiced its resolution.
5. Challenges Release Pent-Up Energy
In a challenging situation, there’s a sense of urgency that can get you moving when you otherwise might have sat right where you were, in that long-standing state of inertia.
We all know that in an emergency, adrenaline allows people to run faster, lift heavier things, etc. Life obstacles can have a very similar effect.
Once that inertia is overcome, you’ve kicked momentum into action—momentum that can take you farther than just to the end of the “crisis.”
This is why sometimes, the answer to an outside observer’s amazed question “How’d you do that?” is “Because I had to!”
6. Challenges Inspire Risk-Taking
I’ll be blunt: when you’re back at the zero mark, there’s less to lose.
If you take a risk when you’re riding high, there’s a sense that if the risk doesn’t pan out, you’ll have a long way to fall.
But when you’re stripped down, it’s usually not so scary, because it feels like there’s less at stake. As a bonus, your ability to put your all into the risk is often vastly expanded, because you have more time or brain-space (or both!) to put toward it.
Forget “What’s to lose?” In great stories of overcoming adversity, the real question is “What’s to gain?”
7. Challenges Destroy Old Paradigms
See “kills old habits” above. Because paradigms—or mental models—are essentially just habits of thought.
If some broken old way of thinking is actually holding you back, a time of great adversity is likely to bring it to light.
And when a broken way of thinking is exposed, we not only seek new ways of approaching things, but we also become more open-minded to those options. And to the value of trying them out.
There’s no doubt about it: this is a crazy time. And no one really knows what’s around the next bend.
But this far into the time of COVID-19, you’ve already shown your strength and determination. Now, it’s time to look for the opportunities that are hidden like gems in the mine.
Best of luck.
Through strategic visioning and in-the-moment issue resolution, Bill Munn helps executives manage teams to their greatest potential. As a 30-year management-coaching veteran and former Dow 30 top executive, Bill has supported hundreds of corporate leaders worldwide with practical wisdom, real-world action tools, and out-of-the-box insight. An MBA and former professor of finance and economics, Bill is a dynamic public speaker and Amazon best-selling author. Learn more at www.billmunncoaching.com.