John McCain died of brain cancer on August 25, 2018.
Newt Gingrich shared a surprising story about McCain.
Gingrich writes, “One of my most personal encounters with John was in 1986 when I was in a very intense fight with the House Democratic leadership. Two physically large House Democrats came over and said they were sick and tired of what I was doing and I ought to know there would be a payback. One of them said, ‘We are coming for you.’
I had not realized that McCain had calmly come over to stand next to me. When the Democrat sounded threatening, John instinctively stepped closer to me and said, ‘When you come for Newt, come for me too, the name’s McCain.’”
McCain was a first term congressman when this happened.
You might be tempted to attribute McCain’s behavior to political theatrics. I heard people say that McCain understood and leveraged political theatrics. But when you know that he refused early release in the late 1960’s from the Hanoi Hilton to stand with his fellow POW’s, you realize that McCain knows how to stand with people.
It costs a leader to stand with others. It’s so costly that some leaders hang team members out to dry when they screw up.
You probably know what it’s like to drive a stake in the ground beside a team member only to have him casually drive a stake in your back. It might have been ignorance on their part. It may have been malice, but the pain is the same.
There IS advantage to standing with others when it seems there’s only disadvantage. Frankly, that’s the time it matters most.
You earn trust when you stand with others.
How might you stand with others today?
But over the years, depending on our upbringing, our schooling, and our work, our desire to engage gets suppressed. It gets covered up.
Our job as leaders is to uncover and rekindle that child-like desire to engage with others and our environment. We can’t create engagement, but we can uncover it.
I was reading a remarkable little book written for teachers by retired professor Calvin Luther Martin entitled, Successful College Teaching Begins with Throwing Away Your Lecture Notes. We can learn a lot here because teaching, like leading, is about serving others while achieving a result. Indeed, teaching is a function of leading.
We teach much more than our subject matter; we teach trust or distrust, courtesy or discourtesy, warmth or coldness—the lessons between the lines.
The people we lead are not coming to us from our perspective. They have their own that has been years on the making.
Bear in mind that you are teaching young men and women with an educational past that has shaped them.
We bring our whole selves to work. Our hope, our scars, our dreams, our fears, our expectations, and our assumptions. Our childhood sense of wonder has been abused. It’s there, but it is cautious. We are conditioned to want to be right more than we want to be accurate.
Behold the class before you. They are not blank slates, nor are they ignorant. There is plenty written on those slates and your task is to rewrite much of that text—if they will trust you and if your good enough to get that close to them. They sit before you, thoroughly trained (brainwashed might be a better word) in ways of pedagogy that will determine how they hear you, what they hear and cannot hear, and how they will absorb what you say.
We are not leading another version of us. We are leading a human being similar in form but different in substance.
These people come to you with layers of expectations that have been created starting in the first grade. Like an old kitchen countertop, they have been painted over and over. The oak, cherry, or maple cabinet beneath is smothered by an amour of paint. It’s a bland countertop now. The fine wood underneath is unknown; it’s merely a rigid structure useful for covering with paint and, after that, supporting pots and pans.
Thirty countertops, each covered with a dozen coats of paint, file into your room, take a seat, and open their spiral-bound notebooks. They’re ready for yet another coat of paint, Professor Martin. They know the drill; go ahead, start brushing it on.
The sorrow of this parable is that they expect it. They actually expect you to drone on, giving them fact after fact while they fill their notebook and worry about memorizing all this information.
Surprise them; don’t do it.
A leader has to peel off the old paint and get to that desire to engage that has been unwittingly covered over. We have to uncover the desire to engage. The desire to learn. The desire to connect.
The tendency is to be instructing. We do need to instruct but it needs to be part of a larger, coherent story that people can feel a part of.
We are wired to engage. It’s already within us. Our task as leaders is to uncover what is already there.
Martin explains that to teach or to lead “is to give a concert, to perform a beautiful, passionate concerto which everyone in the audience yearns to play, improvise on, and even improve.”
We don’t build engagement, we uncover it.
Uncover engagement in your organization
If you’re like most people, you’re looking ahead to the New Year and thinking about what you would like to accomplish. With innovation being on the brink in healthcare the last several years, one thing has surely taken place: restricted access to the right people in order to talk about your solution.
It may sound very simple on the surface; however, navigating the murky waters of healthcare successfully towards gaining access to the decision maker is difficult. And if it’s your goal to gain “Access” in the New Year, it’s a highly coveted and ambitious one.
When the healthcare world was less commoditized, conveying trust was enough to make the sale. Today, there’s simply too much noise in the market place and erodes the ability to gain traction or trust. This leads to many solutions providers ending up swimming in the dreaded sea of similar.
3 Ways Trust Can Be Ruined In an Instant
Gaining access to a decision maker has a lot to do with compatibility and reputation. If you have a great reputation, they’re more likely to listen to what you have to say. Compatibility is not just about how well your personalities mesh. It has more to do with how the healthcare solutions provider sees you and whether or not they trust you.
Trust is vital in any relationship; especially, a sales relationship. It’s been said that trust is the foundation upon which salespeople will achieve success. It will keep your customers coming back and choosing you over your competitors. Unfortunately, trust can be lost in an instant. Here are three ways you can lose the trust of a healthcare solutions provider.
1. Having a Hidden Agenda
A lot of salespeople are focused solely on sales. While sales are important—after all, sales are the lifeline of any organization looking to survive and thrive—it shouldn’t be the only focus. A salesperson doesn’t necessarily have to blatantly show or tell the client that they’re focused solely on themselves. Subconsciously, clients can pick up on even the subtlest of signs. When they feel like they’re not as important as the sale, trust goes right out the window.
Here’s the cool thing, you can eliminate rejection forever simply by giving up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, be sure that everything you say and do aligns with basic mindset that you’re there to help identify and solve their issues.
2. Moving Too Quickly
Customers, especially one’s in healthcare, don’t like to be forced to do anything. In many situations, customers feel like they’re almost being bullied by a salesperson. Trying to move the relationship too quickly is detrimental to the trusted relationship between the customer and salesperson. Relationships are complex and multi-dimensional, which means that pressure leads to resistance and road blocks in your trust equity building efforts.
Contemplate letting go of trying to close the sale or get the appointment. What you’ll discover is that you don’t have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward.
Simply focus your conversation on the problems that you can help prospects solve. By not jumping the gun and trying to move the sales process forward, you’ll learn that your potential customers will give you the direction you need.
3. Having No Understanding or Empathy for the Customer
Everyone wants to feel understood; it’s a basic human essential. At the very least, they want those around them to feel some empathy for what they’re going through, even if they can’t completely understand the situation. Your Potential clients & customers feel the same way. They have bad days, they may be dealing with difficult life circumstances, or they may be overwhelmed by all of their responsibilities at work.
Trust will be lost if you or anyone on your sales team fails to acknowledge the challenges that your customers are going through. In essence, the customer will feel like their feelings, even their existence, have been belittled. And, when they feel this way there is no way they’re going to trust the person who is contributing to them feel this way.
How to Build Trust and Gain Continual Access to Potential Customers
What will it take for healthcare solutions provider to start gaining access to the decision makers during the New Year? There are three steps they can take.
1. Tell the Truth
There’s no better way to earn a client’s trust than with honesty. Clients want to know what you can and can’t provide for them. Stretching the truth to gain the sale will only lead to disappointment, both for them and for your wallet.
2. Embrace Transparency
This goes hand-in-hand with honesty. Keep your promises for sure, however, don’t start making promises that you can’t keep. A lack of honesty and authenticity will definitely have an adverse effect on your reputation with the decision-makers.
3. Replace “Selling” With “Caring”
Those in the healthcare field enter the field because they want to help other people. They’re constantly caring for others. They need to be cared for, too. This is where you come in. If you make your customers feel well cared for, they’re sure to become loyal customers.
Instead of burning a lead by asking “probing” questions to qualify a potential client, you might want to consider how you can add value through concrete insights and build trust beforehand.
Moving Ahead, Access Will Be Predicated Upon Building “Trust Equity”
In the world of quotas and benchmarks things have become watered down and sales conversations have somehow become surface level and NOT authentic.
The currency of the new economy is trust. And you need TRUST beforehand to even get ACCESS.
Building “trust equity” is a long-term, never-ending effort of communicating, listening, building trust and establishing credibility. My belief is that you’ll be more likely to win over customers’ trust over time and tap into a well of abundance that’ll never dry out.
Learn How You Measure Up on the “Trusted-Access” Scale
Like any business strategy, determine what measurements need to be in place to determine effectiveness. Have a strong grip on what those KPI’s are and manage towards those goals each month.
Good leadership advice is meant to be shared. Here eight healthcare leaders — including CEOs, CFOs and chief strategy officers — offer the No. 1 piece of advice they would give other leaders in their field.
1. Rob Bloom, CFO of Carthage (N.Y.) Area Hospital. “The best advice I have is to find the courage to change what must be changed and accept those things that cannot be changed in the short term. Regardless of whether a hospital is profitable or struggling, there will be challenges. The difficult task is to determine where to focus resources while accepting criticism for problems that will not change the short-term viability of the organization. You have to learn to trust your judgment and resist pressures from others that might tempt you to alter your course based on their lack of understanding. It is very much a triage process: Stop the bleeding first, then worry about infection later.”
2. Mona Chadha, chief strategy officer of San Francisco-based Dignity Health’s Bay Area. “One of the key strengths of being a good leader is really listening and leading people by example. That to me is one of the successes. Then, do some thinking outside of the box. That’s been my mantra of success in the past.”
3. JoAnn Kunkel, CFO of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health. “The very first CFO I worked for in 1990 always said, ‘you’re only as good as your team. … I’d never be able to be successful without having you and the team working with me.’ [That CFO] was a very thoughtful and inclusive leader. He gave me opportunities to be part of the team and think strategically and develop into a leader. So since then, it’s always been my belief that we have a very strong team that should always participate. If we have someone that needs help, we have multiple individuals ready to step up. And working together makes us all better. My advice would be: It’s important to remember you are only as good as your team. Sometimes I think when you get into these leadership roles you can forget that. You always want to be inclusive, give credit to the work and the team and the efforts that help make you successful in your role.”
4. Michael McAnder, CFO of Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare. “I think what I’d say is try and look for the long-term play. You can’t manage this business on a day-to-day basis. You have to have a clear direction and stick with it. I think that’s probably the thing our CEO Kevin Brown has done really well. I have never worked at an organization with a one-page strategic plan before. Every meeting starts with it, and we use it at every presentation. That consistency has brought clarity. It’s also why we’ve gone from five hospitals to 11 in the three years I’ve been here. That resonates with other organizations when we talk about our plan. It’s really important. In addition, obviously, you have to act with integrity and character. If you’re in a position where you can’t do that, you have to make a different decision about whether you can keep working for someone.”
5. Alan B. Miller, CEO of King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services. “I often give a few pieces of advice to other CEOs and leaders, including:
6. David Parsons, MD, CMO of Portland-based Northwest Permanente. “Listen to the people you lead and be honest about which problems you can solve and which ones you can’t. People usually don’t mind being told no as long as you are direct and honest about the reasons why. People detest ambivalence.”
7. Mike Pykosz, CEO and founder of Chicago-based Oak Street Health. “Be persistent and be motivated by your mission. One thing we found really early was everything is a lot harder and takes a lot longer than you think it will. Things that make a lot of sense to you and are super logical will always take a little longer. [Success] requires breaking down a lot of little barriers, including a lot of inefficiencies, a lot of complexities and mindshare. But whatever it is, be persistent and have faith that if you’re trying to do the right thing, and if you stay at it, you’ll be able to break down those barriers and accomplish these things.”
8. Michael Wallace, president and CEO of Fort Atkinson, Wis.-based Fort HealthCare. “I’d say visualize the outcome you want and then go get it. I also like the phrase ‘try hard, fail fast, move on, start over.’ You’re one step closer to a solution if the last one didn’t work. But don’t let perfect get in the way of good. I like to be 8 for 10 rather than 3 for 3. Failure is the byproduct of trying to move an organization forward. If I get 8 of 10 things right, I am going to end up further along, closer to my vision than if I wait to be sure about everything to get that perfect 3 for 3.”
I have a motto when it comes to honesty and transparency at work: Spin belongs in the gym, not the workplace.
Spinning the truth is a way of shaping our communications to make our self, the company, or the situation appear better than it is in reality. It’s become so commonplace in the corporate world that many times we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We “spin” by selectively sharing the facts, overemphasizing the positive, minimizing the negative, or avoiding the obvious, all in an attempt to manipulate the perception of others. See if a few of these spins on the truth sound familiar:
Spinning the truth is one of the most common ways leaders bust trust. It also leads to tremendous inefficiencies because people are confused about roles, they duplicate work, balls get dropped, and people resort to blaming others. Poor morale, cynicism, and political infighting become the norm when honesty and transparency are disregarded.
There are macro-level societal events and trends driving the need for greater transparency in the workplace. We’re all familiar with the digital privacy concerns related to the pervasiveness of technology in our lives, and we’ve witnessed the corporate scandals of blatant deceit and dishonesty that’s contributed to record low levels of trust. The global meltdown of trust in business, government, and other institutions over the last several years has generated cries for more transparency in communications, legislation, and governance. Oddly enough, research has shown that in our attempts to be more transparent, we may actually be suffering an illusion of transparency—the belief that people are perceiving and understanding our motivations, intents, and communications more than they actually are.
But at the individual, team, and organization levels, what can we do to build greater trust, honesty, and transparency? I have four suggestions:
Spin is a great activity for the gym and it keeps you in fantastic shape. However, in the workplace, spin is deadly to your health as a leader. It leads to low trust, poor morale, and cynicism in your team. Keep spin in the gym and out of the workplace.