Bennis is credited with pioneering the study of leadership as a formal academic discipline'in the US and Britain.
For Bennis, leaders had the following qualities: a guiding vision, passion, integrity, trust, curiosity and daring.
Manager and Leader: The Healthcare IT Case
The above dialectics clearly have considerable relevance for healthcare IT managers and CIOs, who have the task of both managing and leading (non-technical) decision-makers. The arguments are, however, hardly straightforward.
A good way to highlight the delicacy of the dual management/ leadership challenge is to substitute CEOs for leaders in some of the above quotes.
For example, it would be a tough call to say the healthcare IT manager or CIO ‘administers’ and ‘maintains’, while the hospital CEO ‘innovates’ and ‘develops’, or for that matter that IT managers and CIOs have ‘an eye on the bottom line’ while CEOs have ‘an eye on the (technical) horizon.
Searching for Healthcare Leaders
In the US, The National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL) is a Chicago-based non-profit organization to stimulate the development of leadership in the healthcare area, especially in terms of the challenges of the 21st century. NCHL is seeking to transform the industry’s leadership by competency-based learning, benchmarking against best-inclass organizations both inside and outside healthcare, and establishing standards of best practices, and collaborating with leaders inside and outside healthcare to continuously seek innovation and improvements in healthcare to benefit all of our communities.
Areas of relevance in the healthcare IT area, include Leadership Excellence Networks and the Health System Demonstration Project. Other areas which NCHL is supporting include a Nurse-Team Leadership Project, and a University Graduate Health Management Demonstration Project, an especially proactive measure to begin identifying and tapping into tomorrow’s healthcare leaders.
Transformational Leaders for Healthcare
Healthcare IT is also part and parcel of some organisations associated with the NCHL: the Healthcare Research & Development Institute and, to an extent, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. The most influential organisation, however, is GE Healthcare.
NCHL and the GE Institute for Transformational Leadership provide a portfolio of comprehensive learning programmes focused on leaders at critical stages of their careers as they advance within healthcare organizations. The programme curriculum is grounded in leadership development best practices, an area for which GE is renowned across the world. It is however crafted in the context of the healthcare industry, with due attention to both healthcare technology and IT management – as well as, of course, leadership.
A Note of Dissent: Artist, Craftsman, Technocrat
The concept of manager versus leader (and its seeming resonance in the US) has, however, been powerfully challenged from further up north. Patricia Pitcher, a Canadian business school dean and Chief Economist at the Toronto Stock Exchange, uses a factor analysis technique to define three types of leaders, each with a differentiated profile. The title of her book ‘Artists, craftsmen and technocrats: The dreams, realities and illusions of leadership’ (Stoddart, 1995) indicates how she visualises managers:
Ó Artists: imaginative, visionary, intuitive, daring, entrepreneurial and emotional
Ó Craftsmen: steady, well-balanced, reasonable, predictable, and trustworthy
Ó Technocrats: detail-oriented, fastidious, uncompromising, and intellectual.
Pitcher speculates that none of the above offers a universally preferred style of leadership. Instead, she suggests that artist leaders build and create, craftsman leaders solidify position, while technocrats are best at delivering on unpleasant jobs. Pitcher’s study found no balanced leader who exhibited all three sets of traits.