No Ordinary Organisation
I walked into a busy healthcare facility in the heartland of Singapore. The security guard initiated surprising hospitality-like eye contact and asked me what I needed (not part of his security job!). I said "I have a meeting with Dr. X" (certainly not your usual visitor request in a healthcare facility).
Surprisingly, he walked me personally to the door of Dr. X, checked for his presence in the room, before allowing me to contact Dr. X on my mobile.
During the 10min waiting time before I met Dr. X, two other staff approached me to see how they could assist me (they were obviously paying attention to my "non patient-like" body language)
A Unique Work Culture
That surprised me. This was no ordinary work culture.
THAT was no ordinary security guard (not even an employee of the organisation, merely contracted to provide security services). But his hospitality spoke volumes about how psychologically invested he was in his job.
There were many other patients in the healthcare facility, all presumably waiting. The three personnel's actions demonstrated the amazing level of staff engagement in this place. There was nothing that happened that didn't concern anyone. No one had to wait for others before taking action to serve.
The Man Behind the Culture
Dr. X came across as humble, polite & patient, not the usual qualities you will immediately associate with a successful & accomplished leader of a healthcare facility. He said,
"Here we treat everybody, even non-employees (referring to the security guard) as part of the family. They get invited to all our staff functions and gatherings. People here stay a long time, they do not want to leave."
He was speaking about what he did, but I was making connections between his actions and the talent themes on his most unique profile.
Dr. X possesses a unique ability to focus on incremental improvement (#developer) of his people while pushing for high standards (#maximizer). This allows him to patiently nurture junior staff yet engage high-flyers to drive excellence. No one left behind.
He does work well independently (#achiever), yet is adept at delegation (#arranger), all these while maintaining a real ownership of everything that happened in his center (#responsibility). An effective manager who leads from the front.
He invests time fairly among his huge staff team (#consistency), yet manages to make all of them his inner circle (#relator). People felt close to him without sensing any favouritism or cliques. Relatable leader to all staff.
Keys to Effectiveness - Applying Talents for Consistent Positive Outcomes
We could go on about the half-dozen combinations we explored during strengths-based executive coaching, but it was clear that Dr. X's excellence arose from his ability to apply contrasting talents effectively to meet the multi-faceted demands on a healthcare leader.
Dr. X demonstrated an ability to use his unique soft-skills, coupled with his domain knowledge and skills as a medical doctor, to become an effective leader.
The Strengths-Based Coaching helped him to become aware of what he did (unconsciously) to become so good at his job. What was formerly incidental, once brought into conscious space, paves the way for intentional development & application.
Strengths-coaching now empowers him to do more:
- Selectively add more hard skills & knowledge to expand contribution into other areas (e.g. medical research)
- Intentionally maximise contribution with job functions that bring out his best soft-skills (a.k.a. career planning, people management & job redesign)
The coaching will have sparked a potentially significant leap, helping him to contribute even more.
Strengths-Based Leadership & Employee Engagement
That was all about the man. What had it to do with the staff & excellent culture? Even before executive coaching, Dr. X had already exhibited a keen awareness to engage staff in their (respective) unique talents.
- His #developer allowed him to engage people at their level.
- His #maximizer enabled him to focus on staff's potential for excellence.
- He invested time (#relator) to be curious about his employees (#learner) & assumed ownership (#responsibility) to assign roles (#arranger) so that his facility & service matches up to the highest benchmarks (#competition).
Gallup's research on employee engagement shows that a focus on strengths is the primary driver for staff engagement regardless of the bigger environment or the personal factors. Dr. X "just happened" to lead using a strengths-based approach even without calling it out.