There is no denying that great leadership is the cornerstone of every successful organization. All of us have had managers: someone who is responsible for controlling our activities throughout the work day. Not all of us have had leaders. John Maxwell has succinctly explained the difference: “A manager says ‘go,’ a leader says ‘let’s go.’”
“A manager says ‘go,’ a leader says ‘let’s go.'” – John Maxwell
Leadership means many things to many people, but when it comes to the difficult task of collecting money having great leaders in your organization is more important than ever. At RMP we are proud to be known for our innovative culture and compassionate approach to collections, and it is our mission to do the right thing – for our employees, our clients, and their patients – 100% of the time. It is a vision that began with our leadership, but has been embedded so deeply in the culture that it has become the vision of every one of our employees. How did we get to this point? By following four proven principles of leadership: passion, discipline, servant leadership, and vision casting. They work for us, and they can work for you!
Our CEO Mark Schabel has said, “Figure out what you are passionate about, enough to outwork everyone else in the world, because 90% of success in life is a direct result of how much effort you are willing to put forth. The trick is you have to be honest with yourself about what you are passionate about.”
“You have to be honest with yourself about what you are passionate about.” – Mark Schabel
Your patient accounting team may be very passionate about the success of your organization, and therefore about collecting money from your patients, but that is not likely. To expect them to love such a difficult task enough to want to be better than everyone else in the world is unrealistic. What you can do instead is to help them find out what aspect of their job they are passionate about. That could be the patients, their co-workers, their benefits, or their pay. Whatever it is ask them this question: “If you woke up tomorrow and could never find another job with that same aspect again, how would you approach the day?” Helping them to honestly identify that passion and to embrace it will, in time, lead to a much more committed team.
Discipline Them, Love Them
Betty Chase’s “Discipline Them, Love Them” discusses practical ways for parents to discipline and build self-esteem in their children, but the concepts can be easily extended to leadership. Disciplining your employees does not mean scolding them. It’s about holding people accountable for their results and providing frequent feedback about their performance. For example, the annual review should never be a surprise. But this kind of discipline means loving your people enough to tell them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear.
If it seems inappropriate to talk about love in the context of work, remember that love can be a verb. Show your teammates you care. Ask about family, not business. Get to know them, learn their passions, and show a genuine interest in them as people, not employees. Only then will you be able to develop a team that will run through walls for you.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – John Maxwell
Leadership that leads with a servant’s heart, and that is engaged, consistent, and genuine, is an example to the entire team of how they can serve patients. Leaders should be there to serve their teams, not the other way around. This requires building authentic relationships, knowing your people and letting them get to know you. Only then will your team trust you enough to be committed to your goals.
Without a clear vision, people will follow their own. You may have a person on your team who has influence over everyone else. If you think carefully, are they being servant leaders? Have they built authentic relationships and trust with the team? If they have and you have not, it’s likely that your team will follow them, for better or for worse.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Create an inspiring vision for your team, and lead them toward it by example. Be forward looking, share the exciting possibilities that lie ahead and set higher standards for them to aspire toward in order to get there. Your vision should be unique and for the common good. “Let’s hit 20% recovery next year” is far less motivating than finding a shared passion among your team and creating a goal around that. When thinking about an inspiring vision to share with your team, consider the vision of one of history’s greatest leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the way he inspired a nation to follow him: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” There was no mistaking his vision: it was unique, inspiring, and certainly for the common good.
“A culture of greatness doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when a leader expects greatness and each person in the organization builds it, lives it, values it, reinforces it, and fights for it.” – John Gordon
Excellence is created by design. Your services can always be rivaled by a competitor, but what often cannot be rivaled is culture. John Gordon said, “A culture of greatness doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when a leader expects greatness and each person in the organization builds it, lives it, values it, reinforces it, and fights for it.” Being the leader your team needs will create purpose within your employees and there is no doubt that your patients will also feel the difference.