Aren’t there enough acronyms in management and leadership training? Every new book, program and initiative is full of them. I am not certain if they help me remember the concepts or not. So therefore, here is another, as I am not beneath coming up with my own commonsensical acronym to highlight what I have experienced as critical to effective leadership.
How about “The S.E.A.L. of Effective Leadership?” No, not Strategic Effectiveness for Aspiring Leaders- found it on Google. Nor does it have anything to do with the Navy- speaking of excessive acronyms. Smile, Expect, Acknowledge and Live. These principles are nothing new; they are common sense; however, it is very possible to lose sight of common sense from time to time.
Smile. While quite simple, the bigger concept is that our attitude is very much subject to the trickle-down effect. A smile goes much further than the effort it takes. A leader who does not smile creates a tense team. At our hospital, we have a standard of excellence called the “No Passing Zone;” do not pass someone without eye contact, verbal acknowledgment and a smile. This is a culture expectation that helps eliminate a cold environment where everyone stares at the floor when walking throughout the building. We stress to our team the importance of the patient experience, and our expectation for patients to leave with an exceptional experience. That will occur naturally if team members are satisfied with their workplace environment, and it can start with a smile.
Expect. Even with a smile, it is okay to expect excellence. Accountability is one of our core values and relates to accepting our responsibility to exceed expectations. Expectations are not just a wish, hope or prayer; they are intentional. Expectations must be set, written, communicated and consistently monitored to be carried out effectively.
Acknowledge. It is hard to stay engaged without an occasional pat on the back. We all need validation that our efforts are meaningful, worthwhile and acknowledged. Acknowledgement likewise leads to accountability and shows respect to the team. Acknowledgement can come in many forms, least of which is a simple “thank you.” Donuts are nice too. From verbal gratitude, to daily rounding, to annual reviews, meaningful acknowledgement goes a long way.
Live. Live what you expect, walk-the-walk.