Leadership
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How Much Management Training, and How Often? (05:33)

“It should be just the right amount,” jokes Richard Zane.

“Modular education, just-in-time education, education embedded into people’s work is clearly a very important thing for organizations to be exposing their personnel to,” says Tom Lee. Zane adds that these trainings could perhaps fit into medical school curricula.

Business school is another option — an MBA or standalone training course. Executive training offered at Harvard, for example, is akin to on-demand training and very effective, says Raffaella Sadun. “The students come back to us and they tell us that that was a moment in which they could really step back from what they do on a day-by-day basis and think about why they’re doing it and how they’re doing it. It’s important to provide those moments of self-reflection,” she says, adding that there’s no prescription for the right amount of time spent in on-demand training. “But you should definitely have it as part of the job. Because if you don’t plan it, if you’re not proactive about it, it’s never going to happen.”

“We should all be getting feedback all the time on how we’re doing as a team member, in our roles as leaders or managers,” adds Lee. “And if we get that feedback, we will be seeking out the help, because everyone wants to do a good job.”

“People like these opportunities, and when you approach them, they feel like rewards, they feel like recognition of leadership potential, recognition of an inclination to be better,” says Zane.

Instead of assuming people in managerial roles are ready for the job, it would be interesting to instead ask them if they need help, adds Sadun. “I don’t know if this question is ever asked. And my concern is that if you ask it, people will tell you ‘no’ just because they’re not supposed to say, ‘yes, I need help,’” Sadun says. “For me, management is an investment in the sense that it’s something that the organization should be providing, because it’s needed. And it’s not just in desperate cases that it should be provided; it should be part of how we think about the organization.”

“There are these fabulous moments [in leadership] where you do give the St. Crispin’s Day speech,” says Lee, “but also the discipline, knowing what the job really is and having the discipline to do it, that’s something that’s critical for success.” He describes how Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain, helped launch Cleveland Clinic’s United Arab Emirates center in part by spending nearly every night eating dinner out with colleagues, getting to know them.

“I think most of us, if we have clarity on what we’re supposed to do, we will be disciplined about it. But getting that clarity from people like Raffaella and then being disciplined about it, I think that is critical to having the chance to do the glamorous stuff,” says Lee.

Sadun encourages leaders to measure how much time they spend with their own people and what they do with that time. “If you talk about management 101, understanding where your time goes and whether it’s reinvested in making sure that you have the pulse and you can communicate with the organization, that would be the starting point,” she says. “And having that recognition is very important.”

From the NEJM Catalyst event Physicians Leading | Leading Physicians at Intermountain Healthcare, July 12, 2017.

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