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Transform leadership by paying attention

These days everything in the healthcare industry is streamlined: workflow, communication, intake, discharge — if you can name it there has probably been an attempt to streamline it. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making work processes more efficient and effective and focusing only on what is essential. There are, however, situations which would benefit from a different strategy. According to social psychologist Ellen Langer, PhD, the first tenured woman in the Harvard University psychology department, healthcare executives should work to increase their mindfulness. 

"Mindfulness is very powerful. When we're mindful, noticing more things, it's literally and figuratively enlivening. In a work situation that encourages mindfulness, we enjoy being there, we are healthier, it costs less and there are fewer accidents," Dr. Langer told strategy business. Dr. Langer says that the simple act of being more aware can help transform executive healthcare leadership. Here are a few takeaways from her ideas:

Inattention is a root cause of problems: There are often warning signs before little issues snowball into big problems, but they are easy to miss if your company culture emphasizes laser-vision focus on a goal. Stepping back and taking the time to observe minute changes in an organization can help you catch mistakes and identify areas that need improvement.

Encourage staff to be mindful: Awareness doesn't just benefit executives. Healthcare leaders should push staff to pay attention to what is happening around them and take proactive approaches to any challenges that arise. 

Don't forget patients: Patients that are mindful are more likely to take an enterprising interest in their own health. Individuals who receive care should feel free to draw a doctor's attention to even the smallest of changes in their health. At the same time clinicians should pay attention to what patients are telling them.

Healthcare leaders looking to improve their mindfulness can turn to applications like Patient Approved for a head start. Real time patient feedback can indicate where leaders and staff are doing well, and where awareness might help them improve.