Leadership Contest, Culture and collaboration.

Leadership is Personal – Innovating Improvements is a Team Effort

In his recent article “Leadership is Personal” published on LinkedIn’s Pulse, Keith Thurgood (also a member of Prista’s Board of Directors) notes that, “Despite spending billions on leadership development programs, [these programs] have not achieved their intended outcomes.”

Keith then goes on to say that “leadership is really about influence” and “Leaders understand that context, culture and collaboration matter when it comes to influence.” He then discusses the importance of self-awareness and how effective leaders must work on their personal development from the inside-out.

I always appreciate Keith’s insights, and reflecting on his article took me through ‘leadership’ as a thought exercise and into leadership as a learned set of behaviors – leadership becomes a habit, if you will. Some might call this ‘second nature’ because effective leaders make it appear so natural, but that’s not right, either.

By its very nature, leadership is not a solo practice. If leadership skills are not embodied in certain key collaborative work practices, their effectiveness will fade over time. What are those key collaborative practices, and how can they be facilitated?

At Prista, our experience with clients has made it very clear that the ongoing information work regarding the primary purposes and functions of an organization needs to directly serve the leadership function of that organization. This means the information work needs to deliver leveraged, actionable insights to leaders, not mass data, and these insights need to come from the work process itself, not from quarterly reports.

Leaders give direction and feedback that must be communicated directly and used in the collaborative process, not watered-down nor delayed by coming through side-channel briefings or bulletins. When this happens, real-time accountability becomes “built-in” to the way teams operate.

To be effective and efficient, the flow of information needs to leverage Information Technology and not be a massive human effort. Speaking of Healthcare IT design, Ted Melnick, Director of the Yale Clinical Informatics Fellowship, advised “Relentlessly question why things are done a certain way to ensure health IT doesn't get stuck in a cycle of ‘we do it this way because that’s how we've always done it.’”

Chris Coburn, Chief Innovation Officer at Mass General Brigham (Boston) had this to say about innovation: “Know your organization. Its people and culture will be the source, enablers and, at times, obstacles to innovation.” Leadership is personal, but leading requires a team and being an effective leader involves enabling the team’s success and removing obstacles.

In speaking about innovation teams at Houston Methodist, Michelle Stansbury, VP of Information Technology, takes steps to “ensure that we are focused on the right problems and we can quickly operationalize the transformational solutions.” That’s the key – it’s not information for information sake, or work for work sake, but rather developing solutions that lead to positive changes.

In other words, demanding, seeking and choosing fundamentally innovative design in the tools that equip the business is required, but so is end-user buy-in and participation. When this all comes together, leaders' relationship with information and its use in the organization changes dramatically to the benefit of all.


Prista’s ActionCue CI is an innovative, intuitive, easy-to-use platform that goes beyond traditional reporting to provide actionable insights in real-time. With ActionCue CI, information is more readily available, more meaningful, and more actionably insightful for healthcare executives, managers, and clinical staff. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.

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About the Author Don Jarrell

Don Jarrell has over 35 years of technical and business experience in product management, technology strategy and intellectual property management and licensing. Don is a primary driver of Prista’s vision and mission for the ActionCue Clinical Intelligence application.

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