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Dance lessons for healthcare: A refresher course

By | September 27 th,  2011 | Blog | 1 Comments

[youtube_sc url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW8amMCVAJQ]


Derek Sivers' presentation at last year's TED Conference earned a standing ovation and then caused a long stir in cyberspace with his musings on the role of the "first follower." We saw the video again recently and it got us thinking about all the uncertainty that still remains in healthcare as political and legal battles over reform continue.


Wherever we end up, it seems to us that there are some definite dance lessons here about good leadership and good followership in the world of healthcare.


So take a look at the video above and then see what you think about the steps we've broken down below.


Sivers' video shows a solitary person willing to look like a fool as he dances to music from an unseen band.


"A leader,” he says, “needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he's doing is so simple, it's almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!"


In healthcare, is our leadership easy to follow? Is it too complicated and making people stumble? Simplify, simplify.


Back to the video: Eventually, another dancer (the first follower) joins him, then another and another until the few who remain in their seats realize that it's too late (uncool) to join because they're now in the minority.


Sivers says, "Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader."


If nothing else, healthcare reform has upped the ante on the need for innovation. Those who say, “This is the way we’ve always done it,” will not thrive. We need bold, aggressive leaders willing to take a risk.


Sivers concludes: "When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in." In so doing, he says, you help to create a movement.


Applications for healthcare? Here are three. Feel free to add your own.


Release your leaders to be followers as well. Let the roles blur from time to time. Anyone can be a leader. It’s OK for an SVP to follow (and champion) a nurse or help-desk person who has a great idea.


Concern yourself with the movement, not the acknowledgment. In the video, who is the leader? Is it really the first dancer, the guy footloose and shirtless? Or is it the unseen, unacknowledged musician(s)? Who has created the music for the dancers to step to? Does it matter? They both add value to each other. Harry Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”


Keep the focus on people. Notice the simplicity of the dancers. They have no tools, no technology. Just themselves. In an age fraught with the stress of change and economic upheaval, keep an eye on your people. When they are “doing something great,” join in their dance. When they need a valve to release pressure, create a dance for them.


Above all, keep your focus on the people you serve -- the patients and communities who put themselves and their families in your hands during a vulnerable time in their lives.

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