I recently had the privilege of speaking at the AHRA (The Association for Medical Imaging Management) Conference in Phoenix. If you haven’t experienced Phoenix in July, let’s just say “but it’s a dry heat” doesn’t change the fact that the wind (which is 115 degrees) burns your eyes when you’re walking down the street!
One of the dynamics evident in the world of radiology and far beyond is that some level of training and education is required to do the job. Depending on the specific area, an Imaging Technologist goes to school for several years and is required to shadow another Tech during the process before they work on their own. The same is true for many other careers. For example, to be a lawyer, one has to complete law school and pass the Bar exam. And to be a dentist, one must complete the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) before several years of coursework in Dental School, passing the Licensure Exams, and all of that before schooling necessary to move into a specialty.
This makes sense, right? After all, it’s probably a pretty good idea to go to school to use imaging equipment to take pictures of the inside of patients, navigate the court of law, or drill somebody’s tooth.
But when it comes to leadership, people are often selected because they’re the most competent in their given field, are dedicated to the work, and are responsible. The trouble is that they’re often thrown into the deep end of the leadership “pool” without any swimmies, let alone swim lessons.
I’ll be the first to confess that our organization does this too. “Oh, you’re great at XYZ; let’s give you a leadership title and responsibilities and see how it goes.” So, as we navigate through addressing this concern in the season ahead, here are a few questions our leaders are asking themselves as our team begins preparing to equip new leaders more formally:
Why do you lead?
From who you are to what you carry to who you lead for, having a clear understanding of your leadership “why?” is mission critical. Whether it’s an identity statement or leadership philosophy, knowing why and for whom we lead is not only important for the people we’re leading; it’s what will continue to ground us in our leadership journeys.
What kind of a culture do you want to build?
From attitudes, values, and behaviors, what would you love to see in the next 24 months and what drives you crazy and should be eliminated during this time? The more we can establish answers to these questions and provide clarity to the team, the better off everyone will be.
Where do you want to go?
Ultimately, leadership is about closing the gap between “what is?” and “what could be?” Our ability to picture and paint a richly imagined future for our teams is what turns a dream into a reality. What will be different about the team or organization in two to five years? Why is it important to “go there,” and who will be impacted by the change? These answers provide some semblance of clarity around the end destination and allow people to jump in and reverse engineer the steps needed to move us from “here” to “there.”
Regardless of where you are on your leadership journey, take a few moments to consider the questions above. As a hack, the answer to “why do you lead” usually comes in the form of a WHO! From there, paint a picture of what you want to see in your team and the direction you think they ought to go.
Once you have clarity around some of these answers, schedule a time to walk through with someone who can help shape and sharpen them with you. And once you’ve done that, share broadly, live it out and see what happens.
Cheers to who you are and the leader you’re becoming!