The Meaning of the Ten Blocks in the Physician Executive Coach's Logo

Physicians who have succeeded as clinicians, scientists and scholars, and who choose to pursue leadership roles clearly have the intellect and energy to be successful in their chosen role. At the outset, however, they may not have all elements of the knowledge required, and often lack a fully developed set of skills with which to successfully apply the necessary knowledge.

The ‘pile of blocks’ represents the potential held by each Physician Executive at the outset. It is the role of the Physician Executive’s Coach to help the Candidate assess, evaluate, develop and assemble this potential in a meaningful fashion. Together they will put the necessary foundation elements in place and build upon this foundation as the Candidate masters the knowledge and skills necessary to become an exceptional leader. The Physician Executive Coach’s logo is a stair-step ‘stack of blocks’ representing the successful alignment of knowledge and skills achieved by the Candidate as a result of their work together. Each block represents a different element:

The Mission of an organization communicates ‘Why we exist’.  One of the key roles of the organization’s leader (s) is to communicate the Mission and demonstrate how the organization’s activities and actions relate to the Mission.  The Mission is ‘owned’ by the organization and is established and maintained by its Board. It is ‘larger’ than and generally transcends any individual.  It is reaffirmed periodically and rarely changes.  It is the foundation for the organization’s culture.

The Vision of an organization expresses ‘Where we are going’. The leader is the steward of the Vision.  It evolves, sometimes more than once during the extended term of a leader, as conditions change and opportunities present themselves. A key responsibility of the organization’s leaders is to communicate the Vision, assure that it is aligned with its Mission and relate it to the organization’s activities and the commitment of its resources.  The Vision is reaffirmed annually and evolves, generally over a five-to-ten year period.

Most often learned in childhood and reaffirmed as a young adult, Values are the sacrosanct principles by which one lives their life.  They include factors such as integrity, fairness, hard work and humility.  Determination that there is alignment of the Values of a candidate for a leadership position with those of the Board is an important part of the selection process. Understanding, consistently demonstrating and communicating one’s Values on a regular basis is an important role of the leader. When others understand the Values held dear by their leader, they are better able to operate effectively in pursuit of the organization’s Vision while remaining within the boundaries of their leader’s expectations.  Values are re-affirmed often and rarely, if ever, change.  Those who would compromise those Values do not have a role in the future of the organization.

Goals and Objectives represent the interim milestones pursued in the quest of the organization’s Vision.  With horizons of six months to three years, they are the building blocks used to achieve the Vision and represent the current activities of the leader’s subordinates and staff.  They are measurable and reportable, and may be subject to shift based on challenges and opportunities encountered by the organization.  Goals and Objectives are examined semi-annually and change as needed to assure the alignment of resources in the pursuit of the Vision.

Tactics are those tools used in pursuit of Goals and Objectives.  They represent ‘how we get there’.  It is important that the leader align Values with Tactics to be sure that the organization’s members are clear about what represents acceptable behavior in the pursuit of the organization’s Vision and fulfillment of its Mission.

Clarity, timeliness and consistency in communication are essential to effective leadership. Whether oral or written, and using contemporary tools for communicating with the Candidate’s several communities inside and outside the organization, this fundamental skill can always benefit from continued effort and attention.

One characteristic of exceptionally great leaders is that they surround themselves with effective ‘followers’.  These are individuals who are selected for their categorical knowledge and skills, their commitment to the organization’s Mission and the shared Vision and Values of its leader.  Effective leaders provide regular, timely and constructive feedback to their direct reports in the mutual pursuit of performance excellence.  Selection and cultivation of talent consumes a large portion of a leader’s time, as well it should as it is an essential role of a leader.

Effective leaders preserve sufficient time for thoughtful contemplation.  They take those steps necessary to assure clarity of thought and effectiveness of action, and they insist on the same from others who support them.  Physical and mental health is essential to performance excellence over the long term.

Effective leaders appreciate that their ability to focus sufficiently on the organization’s needs requires that they have achieved an adequate degree of harmony in their personal and family life.  This takes time and focus in balance with other activities…it is not an afterthought.

Effective delegation of duties and the commitment of sufficient resources to the leader’s support are essential in large and complex organizations.  Developing and clearly communicating the Vision, and the Goals & Objectives and timeframe in which they are to be achieved (supported by a reaffirmation of Values), is essential to the efficient and effective conduct of the organization’s activities. 

Time is the great equalizer … we are each given the same amount each day.  Unlike other resources, time can’t be saved and used later.  Effective leaders learn how to take this most precious resource and maximize its value.  They delegate duties to others, committing themselves only to those activities where they uniquely can contribute to the advancement of the organization in the pursuit of its Mission and the realization of its Vision.  They preserve sufficient time for personal growth and development and for a life that is enriched by mental stimulation, physical health and emotional richness.

Effective leaders spend time thinking through and clearly communicating to others the organization’s Goals & Objectives, the timeframes within which they are to be achieved and the resources that are to be committed in their pursuit.  They limit their meetings with subordinates to such communication and to providing necessary guidance, the granting of permission, and (when a more efficient and effective mechanism isn’t available) to the receipt of information.

The most effective leaders commit the time necessary to seeing their organization in a broader context.  They develop alliances with others with which the organization can derive benefit and develop alternative strategies that will allow the organization the flexibility to be nimble in an ever-changing landscape.

We work in organizations whose Missions transcend the duration of any individual and thus must have leaders that will leave behind Visions and Values in support of a Mission that will continue long after they are gone.  One’s true legacy is not measured in programs or bricks and mortar, regardless of how well assembled.  Rather, one’s legacy is measured in the articulation and conveyance of the most durable construct … their teaching and skill development of others.  When passed down to succeeding generations of leaders and staff, it is this that will survive whatever the future will bring.  It is this that defines great leaders and great organizations.

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