We work with a large health care provider that is doing remarkable things in the delivery of healthcare. None of what they are doing is accidental or easy. Lean implementation is never easy and having a breakthrough in patient satisfaction scores on floors dedicated to the chronically ill are goals to be envied. Meanwhile, they are dramatically improving efficiencies year after year.

Perhaps most difficult is line one of their Leadership Behaviors list. It’s “Be in the Moment”. The challenge is unusual and raises several questions. First might be “Why would they ask this of their of their leadership?” and second, “How does one do that reliably anyway?”

We think the answer to the first question is that being in the moment allows for a clearer choice over behaviors that might otherwise have become routine or reflexive. In other words, its one of several paths to walking the walk in culture change.

The answer to the second question– How does one do that reliably? — is not so easy.

To get some sense of why it’s not easy, it’s useful to think about how we as human beings are constructed.

Transformational Leadership

Eons of perfecting our biological human nature have resulted in an exquisite instrument. Almost all of our functionality is designed to allow us to survive well and thrive as a person and as a species. But to do so, we took a few shortcuts over the millennium. For instance, a good proportion (some say 30%) of our visual input goes to the lower brain levels before it’s ever processed at a higher level. Author, scientist and producer David Eagleman suggest that our brain’s design makes survival sense if you want to be running well before you can determine what you’re running from.

Eagleman offers a convincing list that argues what we see, hear, feel and sense are all processed through primal structures of our nervous system. The list also suggests that we may not actually see what’s there in the moment, naturally. What we do see is something like what is actually there reminding of us of what used to be there: a representation and not the actual reality itself.

Asking a leader to be in the moment is demanding and, if enterprise transformation is required, perhaps necessary. How to get there is quite another matter since being in the moment goes against our natural human tendencies.

One-way is to re-consider what collaboration has to offer. Even the most stodgy and rigid among us have to admit that a team or collaborative group will reliably say new things, offer new ideas or create options for the future distinct from what past experience alone might provide.

Another way to approach being here now is to build a personal leadership platform. We think such a platform consists of four developmental tasks that, when pursued, will bring you close to the goal of being in the moment.

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