The following is a writing assignment submitted for my nomination as ASHE’s Region 2 Emerging Leader. It way seem strange to post years later but it is a start.
Not surprisingly the strongest influence on my viewpoints of leadership and development as a leader, center around a twenty three year career in the Army National Guard. This Career which paralleled my civilian career in Healthcare Facilities Management totally immersed me in the leadership philosophy as outlined in its leadership bible, Army Field Manual 22-100, Army Leadership.
Parallel careers as a dual career citizen soldier following the model of the early minuteman, parallel also in the similarities in progress up the chain of command and corporate structure. Military assignments included Private, Section Leader, Squad Leader, and Platoon Sergeant within the Non Commissioned ranks followed by Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Troop Commander, Staff Officer, and Military Instructor as a Commissioned Officer. These assignments quite often proceeded if not mirrored the progression of opportunities within my Facility; Grounds Keeper, Director of Maintenance, Director of Facilities Management, Vice President of Facilities Management, and Vice President of Facilities Development. A Career from the trenches to senior staff mimicked by a career in Healthcare from line employee to the board room.
Early leadership began by observation of leadership styles both good and bad, judging which were most effective and fit my personality and belief system. Later as a non commissioned and commissioned officer the specific principles covered in FM 22-100 were studied both formally and informally. Although not always able to articulate the specifics of these principles they in fact have become a part of my core beliefs. The Leader to Leader Institute has distilled these various Leadership Principles into three, BE – KNOW – DO, in their book of the same name.
BE, begins with the required character of a leader, Honest, Competent, Forward looking, Inspired.
KNOW, speaks to the professional competence of the leader, Interpersonal, Conceptual, Technical, and Tactical skills.
DO, Leaders must act, Inspiring, Operating, and Improving.
Although these three can and have been expanded upon with Army values and Leadership attributes, those and others will be left for a later time.
As part of my Core Values these complex yet simple principles have been embraced. Although high and lofty goals leave room for shortfalls, a high level of success in each of my chosen careers has hopefully demonstrated a high level of success in living and modeling these principles.
One aspect of leadership covered in interpersonal skills needing to be addressed is the ability to work with others, In the context of higher rank or position getting things done can be as easy as ordering it to be done. In current times short of combat or a disaster this no longer works. This is particularly true when dealing with people outside your chain of command or organizational structure. Whether the role is Staff Officer or Vice President of Facilities Development, without direct operational control, skill in building agreement or consensus are important tools. My own approach has been to maximize the time listening and understanding while minimizing time spent talking especially if my view has already been stated by others. This becomes easy if you do not worry about who may get credit. In the end the benefit to the larger goal has to out weigh personal gain or ego.
Twenty plus years in each career also corrected one misconception early on regarding rank and privilege. Rank and position comes not only with privilege but much more importantly responsibility. This responsibility becomes the true driver, particularly if the true character of BE is developed. With the recent call up of the 50th BCT by former unit; comes the reminder of the importance of the task of growing those soldiers and leaders with whom I was previously charged. Does the call to growing those who follow in the healthcare engineering field deserve any less dedication? Dedicated to prepare myself and those who follow to BE – KNOW – DO. After all, I cannot forget for a moment that much of the working knowledge I take for granted was passed on by others.
Over the years ASHE has been my resource, providing the professional publications and training to provide growth and certification in our field. Most particularly the previous Certificate in Healthcare Safety Management and Health Care Safety and Security Program – Advanced Program Management and the more current Healthcare Construction Certificate has been beneficial to my career. Attendance at ASHE’s annual conference or PDC on a rotating basis has further built the required knowledge base while allowing for important networking opportunities.
Of course this is what I have received from ASHE our national organization while responsibility truly calls for giving back. Most of this effort has been more local in nature. Early attempts to participate with the local chapter were thwarted by the schedule conflict with my facility’s board meeting. Not wanting to be a non participating “resume builder” member, membership was allowed to lapse. Schedule change several years back allowed membership to be considered once again. Rejoining the new chapter meant offering active participation in meetings and time to represent the chapter on the New Jersey Engineering Advisory Board which I now chair. Additional participation in the chapter’s social action efforts has included support of a homeless program in New York City.
Contributions to membership efforts have included sponsoring three of our newest plant operations managers into attendance and eventual membership and inviting staff from our facility to any training sessions appropriate to their field. Membership efforts through the three managers and me include inviting peers in other primarily Long Term Care organizations in which our organization are members. This has proven to be a difficult task due to the smaller less sophisticated approach these organizations take to facility management, but this too is beginning to change.
An important part of involvement with ASHE, HFMSNJ the local chapter, the Engineering Advisory Board, and as a member of senior management within my organization is advocacy efforts. This takes the form of participating in surveys by ASHE and others, allowing the necessary data base to be collected in support of the initiatives of our organization. It includes taking the time to review pending changes to regulations and codes and communicating any concerns in a way that our interests can be taken into consideration. More importantly awareness of pending changes is necessary allowing intervention before changes take place rather than after it is too late. Most recently I have been given the added privilege of representing the New Jersey Hospital Association in my capacity as Engineering Advisory Board chairman in advocacy visits with State legislators. In these cases the technical expertise of our profession was provided to properly express concern with or support of proposed or pending legislation.
Over the past year I have taken the opportunity to represent my facility as a panel participant at training sessions provided by the New Jersey Hospital Association, sharing information in suicide prevention and the experience of the lengthy upgrade of our psychiatric unit. Additional opportunities to share expertise with peers have included participating in consulting work to a neighboring county hospital. As one of two pilot behavioral management units within the state our facility was asked for assistance, with my contribution being accessing the physical environment and offering recommendations.
As retirement begins to come within sight, there are still worthy goals to be accomplished. The first personal development goal was temporarily set on hold more than a year ago, that being the Certified Healthcare Facility Manager designation I believe important for validation as a profession. It would be my intent to have this accomplished by this summer’s annual conference.
A second goal is continued involvement in the HFMSNJ our local chapter. Whether that means continued committee work as chairman, stepping up to one of the officer positions if needed, or simply striving to add to our membership particularly from the long term care community.
A third goal for which I have the most passion is the training and mentoring of those who follow us in our profession. This includes two groups, those who want to grow their skills but stay in “the boiler room” and those who aspire to “the board room”. Thankfully I believe my career to date provides numerous skill sets and experiences that will be helpful in their development along either path. I look forward to many years of working with ASHE, my local chapter, and fellow professionals in the field of healthcare engineering toward that end.