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Nov 9, 2012 by Patrick Icasas in PM Best Practices & News

Guest post: 3 Leadership Lessons Healthcare Project Managers Can Learn From History’s Great CEOs

Project managers in the healthcare industry face a unique challenge due to the need to integrate both administrative and technical staff with caregivers. These groups often approach their work from very different perspectives, which can be a challenge when putting together cohesive project management teams.

For this reason, project managers in the healthcare industry need to go above and beyond when it comes to honing their communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Here are leadership lessons drawn from 3 of the greatest CEOs in history.

Rockefeller – Be Humble

John D Rockefeller built perhaps the greatest corporate empire the world has ever seen. His company – Standard Oil – monopolized the oil industry through the 19th century and early 20th century, until the government broke it up to form the independent companies that now comprise the core of the U.S. oil industry. He was the first American to be worth more than a billion dollars, and if inflation is factored in, he is regarded by many as the richest person in history. He spent his retirement years giving away the majority of his fortune, laying the groundwork for the structure of modern philanthropy.

There are a lot of leadership lessons to learn from a man like Rockefeller; from his meticulous attention to the numbers, to his impressive knowledge of his business, to the way he outmaneuvered his competition, but perhaps the most intriguing leadership lesson one can learn from Rockefeller is illustrated in the following story:

Being a man who enjoyed a good workout, Rockefeller once placed an exercise machine in the accounting department so he could workout in the mornings. It was a wood and rubber device that he pushed and pulled for his workout. One morning when he showed up for his daily workout, a junior accounting – not recognizing him as the CEO of the company – berated him, telling him that the machine was a “damned nuisance”, and demanded that the device be carted off.

While many men in Rockefeller’s position may have let their ego dictate their response to this insolent employee, John simply said “alright” and had the exercise machine removed. Of course, the accountant was mortified when he later discovered that he had just given a tongue lashing to his boss, who also happened to be one of the most powerful men in the world.

The lesson here is that a good leader doesn’t need to be loud, overbearing, or abrasive in order to communicate. A good leader is in control of his/her ego, and interacts with his employees with the same respect he would want to be afforded.

Richard Branson – Lead By Example

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, which currently holds more than 400 companies. His companies include Virgin Records, which he sold for £500 million to EMI in 1992, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Trains, and Virgin Galactic amongst others. He has an estimated net worth of around $4.2 billion US dollars, and is the 4th richest man in the UK.

Richard Branson is perhaps most known for is his daring leadership style. Not only did he start an Airline when everyone told him it was foolishness, he has flown a hot air balloon around the world, and even broke the world record for fastest Atlantic crossing by boat, as well as the fastest crossing of the English channel by amphibious vehicle. Richard Branson isn’t afraid to put himself out there to promote his company, or to enter industries where competition is fierce and failure is catastrophic. As a result, he’s not only adored by the British public, but by Virgin employees as well.

As a project manager in the health industry, you don’t need to break Atlantic crossing records or risk life and limb in a floating balloon filled with hot air, but what you can take from Branson’s leadership style is to not be afraid to put yourself out there for the benefit of your employees. Whether you’re managing administrative staff or nurses and doctors, everyone respects a leader who leads by example.

Warren Buffett – Trust Your Talent

Despite being at the head of Berkshire Hathaway – one of the richest and most powerful companies in the world – billionaire Warren Buffett rarely gets involved in the management of the subsidiary companies owned by Berkshire.

While Buffett is most well known for his meticulous approach to stock valuation – always focused on the balance sheet and finding quantifiable value – healthcare project managers can also learn a lot from the way he runs the companies he acquires.

Buffett’s strategy is to buy companies with great leaders, and let them do what they do best. He lends his counsel when needed, but when he trusts the management to do what’s best for their companies. As a project manager, this can be a valuable lesson. When you delegate tasks and responsibilities to your team members, trust your team members to deliver. No one appreciates being micro-managed, whether they’re a member of the administrative staff, or a medical professional.

This is a guest post by Nat Sanderson, who is a contributor at ExploreMedicalCareers.com. Nate is passionate about entrepreneurship, education, and technology.

patrick-icasas
Patrick Icasas

Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.

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