I remember the moment when I realized that I needed to learn how to manage leaders. We had grown to a second location in a different community fifty minutes away from our main site. The distance meant that I could not be available for the day-to-day management of local decisions in two locations.
The decision to start thinking about managing leaders was prompted by the first employee at the new site. Ultimately we built our presence in that community around him. It only made sense that he become the director of that site. He was in that role for 15 years and then purchased the practice from me when I retired.
When he asked to set up regular meetings with me, I immediately realized that would be a super idea. It was the beginning of learning how to manage leaders for the last 20 years of my career.
A year later we opened a third location. The core clinical person there became part of what became our leadership team. Now we had three site managers. We called ourselves Directors. Four years later, at the prompting of a consultant, we invited our Director of Administrative Services to the leadership meetings. She managed our support staff and we needed her on the leadership team.
While we have had several changes in personnel through the years, the leadership team still comprises the three site directors, the owner (who at times was also a director), and the Director of Administrative Services.
We now use a cloud-based system (Microsoft’s OneNote Online via OneDrive) to build our leadership agendas. We check off items as they are addressed in our leadership meetings. In that way, any member of our leadership team can log on and see old and new agendas and the notes about past decisions.
As I outline in another post the way we do our regular leadership meetings. (How we used regular meetings to build our culture) We meet three weeks out of the month. The fourth week is filled with an all-staff meeting instead.
When, there is a fifth Thursday, which happens three or four times per year, we have a six-hour planning day. That is where we have the time to address larger systemic issues that require more deliberation. This structure of meetings gives us enough time with each other to manage most decisions in a timely and orderly way.
The orderliness of our meeting structure has, in my view, kept us from becoming a crisis-oriented organization. The predictability of the schedule gives us regular ways to address potential issues before they become crises.
Additionally, the regularity of our meetings provides the strength of relationships needed for those times when we need to go into crisis-management mode. (See the post “Walking our staff through a crisis” for more on how we handle crises.)
For more on some of the tasks that our leadership time was consumed with see the following posts: