By Dom Spadaro
In any type of leadership role, there is a certain mindset that you’re leading your team to in order to accomplish a specific goal. You’re trying to hit a certain sales target or attempting to be declared “the best” in the industry. What happens when you hit that goal? Your leadership isn’t suddenly over. Patients won’t suddenly stop needing care. To sustain the success you’ve achieved, your leadership style has to shift. Hearing healthcare is a stable system, but it is riddled with finite players in an infinite game. That said, are you playing the infinite or finite game in your practice?
Inspired by Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game and James P. Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games, here are five key insights to make sure you’re playing the infinite game:
1. A Moral Vision
Your vision, or purpose, or “just cause” as Sinek puts it, serves as the guiding light for not only your leadership style, but all the actions you make throughout your career. No matter what you call it, your purpose should re-energize you and be the reason you get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes the idea of a “just cause” gets clouded by a corporate vision. Is your purpose to sell as many hearing aids as possible? Or is your purpose to help as many people as you can to hear better? We’re in an industry where only about 16% of people with hearing loss who need our help are getting it. Every goal we hit is about making progress towards something bigger than ourselves.
Your true purpose should be grounded in impacts you would like to make. Team members dedicate themselves to a meaningful cause, not a corporate vision that is based on numbers. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals for your business; it simply means that you shouldn’t let your purpose get lost in a stuffy mission statement directed at winning. Once you’ve won or lost, the game is over. By centering yourself around your purpose, you’ll stay in the game forever. What does your team believe in? What do they see as their just cause?
2. An Empowered Team
It’s no secret that the team you build is an integral part of your long-term success. Once you have the right team members, how do you ensure that they’re supporting your vision?
When you enter an establishment, you can usually tell whether someone is doing their job because they want to or because they must. A team that feels empowered and passionate about the work they are doing leads to an environment of progress and innovation. Their comfort among their team and their drive to give their best shines through in every interaction, especially with patients.
Creating an empowered team means creating an environment that encourages trust among your team. A trusting team feels safe to admit when they’ve made a mistake or to ask for more training and development. Effective leadership will give support and praise for doing things right, but also provide resources for when things are not going right. We should assure our staff that we hear them and want to give them what they feel they need to perform their job to the best of their ability. They should not fear judgement or retaliation by making suggestions, admitting a gap in their knowledge, or even discussing personal problems. When people fear getting in trouble more than they want to do the right thing, we begin to lose quality and innovative thinking.
It is also important to make investments in your team to keep them empowered and prevent burnout. For example, making an investment in new equipment is ensuring your team has the right tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
3. A Worthy Competitor
There will always be other entities in our industry that do what we do as far as helping patients hear better. That’s why when we hear how many hearing aids that are being sold in the big box stores, we all gnash our teeth in the independent sector. Instead of reacting with anger, why don’t we start thinking about the weaknesses we have over big box stores? Why don’t we think about the fact that on the number one sales day of every week, 95% of private practices are closed? Meanwhile the big boxes are open and are helping patients hear.
Our worthy rivals cause us to evaluate our weaknesses to improve our own organizations. We could sit around and preach about how our patient care is better, but maybe we should be asking why they are growing at such a greater pace, outside of the most obvious reason of price. Maybe the greater problem is accessibility and the lack of marketing in the community that would be able to overshadow the simple free hearing test sign in the warehouse. Maybe the issue is related to our online presence. Maybe it is something else entirely, but we will never overcome these issues if we don’t ask the questions. Worthwhile competition keeps us from becoming complacent.
4. Innovation and Flexibility
Why would you abandon something that is working? If you are always thinking about the future and whether your current processes are sustainable, you will find the next solution that keeps your practice moving. The way you operate needs to be flexible to perpetuate your vision. Without flexibility, you take yourself out of the game.
A good example is managed care in the hearing healthcare industry. Twenty years ago, nobody thought it would be 50% or more of your clinics time for 25% of your revenue. Twenty years ago, everyone thought spending ninety minutes for a consult, an hour for a fitting, and thirty minutes for four follow-ups in the first six months was good patient care. Now it’s becoming financially infeasible because of managed care. Additionally, today’s consumer doesn’t want to be seen anywhere near that often. We could be mad at managed care or we could be thinking of how we change the game entirely by taking control of the process and stop letting managed care companies steal your patients.
5. A Brave Leader
Making decisions on the factors that will make your practice stand out is a daunting task. We need to have the integrity to stand by our vision. We have to consider people before profits. This doesn’t mean we don’t believe in profitability, but when a decision could go either way, we err on the side of taking care of people. We have to take a chance on ourselves when it comes to innovating our current systems. Fear is natural but having the bravery as a leader to make these decisions will propel you forward.
As the leader of your practice, you must have the courage to lead your organization if you are ever going to live out your purpose and accomplish your vision. Changing directions in any company is not easy and takes a lot of courage. However, so many company successes across multiple industries have come from a leader having the courage to make a dramatic change in their business. When looking back at your career, you can probably tie a major success to having the courage to make a change. You decided to be brave, and you are left with the proof that courageous leadership keeps you in the game.
When you lead your practice with a mindset revolved around progress an innovation, you’ll continue to see the success you desire for your practice. At CQ Partners, these are daily conversations with our members, and we believe that your vision is our mission. Whether it’s planning staff trainings or bringing the most successful industry leaders together to discuss the state of hearing healthcare, our mindset is focused on staying in the game. It’s time to have a conversation with someone who will challenge you and the status quo of our industry.
Reach out to us to start a conversation today.