Through the Eyes of a Manager/Mentor: "Innovative Leadership is Needed Everywhere"

by Robert Conrad

Leaders throughout history can be found in many different walks of life.  From the visionary leader of a multi-million dollar corporation to the self-employed street food vendor, all it takes to be an effective leader is a ton of charisma, killer communication skills and a strategist’s mindset.

Certain industries, such as the medical field, appear to be steeped in bureaucracy and endlessly bound by legislation, but that doesn’t mean that visionary leaders need not apply for healthcare administrative positions.  In truth, many of the qualities that embody a great leader and/or manager are needed in all industries, even ones as perceptibly stoic and reserved as the medical field.

Old Habits Die Hard

Some businesses operate with the tired, albeit well-known “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach, but in the end, this approach is hardly indicative of positive changes occurring.  Sure, some industries, such as working in a correctional facility kitchen, don’t necessarily require an assertive and forward-thinking leader at the helm.

These industries tend to “play by the book” and meet their performance objectives while remaining profitable enough to stay in business. In the case of a correction facility kitchen worker, they work the same hours and create the same dishes using standardized recipes every day, 365 days a year.  The benefit?  Food cost remains consistent and residents get their daily nutrients.

But what if that same program was in danger of getting shut down due to budget cuts?  Would the same complacent leader be able to operate the kitchen in the same way that they are accustomed?  Or would that leader need to investigate the root cause of the cut, and what action they can take to turn the situation around?

Leaders with Grit Needed

Going back to healthcare, could you imagine what “magic trick” an administrator would have to pull out of their hat if they were faced with a crippling budget cut or full-blown hospital closure?  What about combating an outdated piece of legislation that impedes the fruition of new medical advancements?  Public Health administrators do have the ability to invoke change in current medical policy, but they also have to adhere to budgetary constraints as well as possess excellent interpersonal communication skills.  Budgetary constraints…doesn’t that sound a lot like the poor kitchen manager above?

Unlike the aforementioned kitchen manager, hospital administrators cannot operate effectively within a narrow scope.  Whereas the kitchen manager is more concerned with meeting the budget and little else, hospital administrators have to juggle financial, moral, stakeholder and legal obligations for either a single hospital or an entire network of medical facilities.  In some cases, some of these facilities could be in dire need of new equipment and more rooms, so when you consider the varying budgets that some of these facilities have to work with, creativity and initiative become a given.

Regardless of what industry you are in, certain desirable traits (Psychology: Five Personality Traits of Innovators)  have been identified in successful leaders.  Some of these characteristics include commitment, observation, approachability and building trust.  In any industry, it gives leaders the chance to build rapport and support in their vision, as well as instilling loyalty into their staff.  Through observation, leaders are able to take in what’s happening around them and solve any problem with confidence.

Where Do Leaders Work?

When we hear the term “leadership” in a job search context, many of us think of endlessly scrolling through “Help Wanted” ads that are simply looking for a warm body that follows orders, nothing more.  Leaders don’t fit nicely into this space, and as such, may find themselves at a loss when trying to find gainful employment in a company that fits their ideals best, or while they work on getting their own idea off the ground.

The truth is, there are many companies that are seeking visionary leaders to help them drive their business into the future.  Companies such as Apple, Inc.Amazon and Virgin Atlantic are consistently looking for driven employees who are interested in leadership roles, and their respective success speaks volumes to each company’s focus on evolving with the times.

As for hospital leadership, the pay certainly isn’t bad.  As of 2012, the average annual pay for hospital administrators was over $88,000, which equates to roughly $3600 every two weeks!  Those with a background in business can easily translate their skills into a hospital administration position (more salary and career information can be found here). Considering that the field of healthcare is expected to undergo a major turnover, this may not be a bad industry for budding leaders to get into.

The Business of Leadership

Considering the persistent entrepreneurial spirit within some of us, it comes as no surprise that we wouldn’t want to be shoved “into a box”, working at a dead end job that offers no rewards.  These individuals may come off as abrasive and obsessive to the untrained eye, but as seen above, there are plenty of industries that would be more than happy to take you, the enterprising leader, under their wing yet give you the room to fly.  No matter what your passion might be, go after it doggedly and never give up.

Have there been any leaders that have inspired you in the past?  For me, it was my first manager at a fast-food restaurant, a man who wasn’t afraid to take risks and went out of his way to accommodate his employees.  His vision sparked my own and propelled me to work with at-risk youth as a mentor as well as manage my own teams towards greatness.

Tell me, who is your inspiration?

image credit: runforthecall.com

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  • Robert Conrad is a former manager/trainer who has received multiple accolades throughout his career. These include invitations to company focus meetings and a handcrafted plaque presented to him by his team. Now, he is a mentor for at-risk youth and even cooks at a local detention facility. In his off-time, he enjoys playing video games and spending time with his family. Robert can be found on Twitter and Facebook.