By Arif Subhan, MS, CCE
The term “leader” is defined in the glossary of The Joint Commission’s 2013 Hospital Accreditation Standards.1 It states that the leader is “an individual who sets expectations, develops plans, and implements procedures to assess and improve the quality of the organization’s governance, management, and clinical and support functions and processes. At a minimum, leaders include members of the governing body and medical staff, the chief executive officer and other senior managers, the nurse executive, clinical leaders, and staff members in a leadership position within the organization.”
This definition would include departmental or service leaders like directors or managers of clinical engineering.2
Leadership and Management
Many say that leadership is different from management. But as Alan Murray has explained, there is a close relationship between them: “Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complementary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves. Still, much ink has been spent delineating the differences. The manager’s job is to plan, organize, and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.”3
Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership
Kouzes and Posner in their book, The Leadership Challenge, talk about the following five practices of exemplary leadership that they discovered through their research that has enabled leaders to get amazing things done.4
1) Challenging the Process. Leaders are known to seek and take on challenges. They don’t wait and sit idly for good fortune to fall on them. The challenge could be a novel product, a unique service, or the start of new business. The challenge in all cases involves a change from the status quo. Leaders blaze the way and are prepared to venture out into the unknown. They look for new and better ways of doing things by innovating and experimenting. They learn from their mistakes or failures as well as their successes.
2) Inspiring a Shared Vision. Organizations, social movements, and other changes in life begin with a dream. In order to recruit people with vision, the leaders must know their people and speak their language. People should have the confidence that their leaders understand their desires and will do what is in their best interest. Leaders should express enthusiasm in communicating their vision.
3) Enabling Others to Act. Successful leadership is possible through a team effort. Leaders solicit the support and assistance from all those who are assigned to the project. Leaders involve all their staff in the assigned project, and give their staff the power and information they need to accomplish their tasks.
4) Modeling the Way. Leaders go first. They set an example and build commitment through simple acts. Leaders have operational plans, and they must direct projects along a predetermined course, provide feedback, and take corrective actions to keep the projects in line with schedules and budgets.
5) Encouraging the Heart. People can be tempted to give up. Leaders encourage them to carry on and complete the project.
Leadership in Biomedical Engineering
Our field has many leaders. Malcolm Ridgway is just one example. He started one of the first shared services organization in United States, and is widely admired for inspiring others to challenge convention thinking. He was one of the clinical engineers who successfully rebutted assertions from Ralph Nader about the dangers of “micro-shock.” He has been a champion of using reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) to develop an evidence-based approach to medical equipment maintenance.5 24×7 CCE Prep May 2013
Arif Subhan, MS, CCE, FACCE, is the chief biomedical engineer at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Calif; adjunct assistant professor, biomedical engineering, University of Connecticut; and a member of 24×7’s editorial advisory board. The suggestions and views expressed here are those of the author. They do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the University of Connecticut. For more information, contact email@example.com.
1. 2013 Hospital Accreditation Standards. Oakbrook Terrace, Ill: Joint Commission Resources; 2013.
2. Subhan A. Personnel management/supervision VII. 24×7. 2012;17(3):32.
3. What is the difference between management and leadership?The Wall Street Journal. April 7, 2009. Accessed April 8, 2013.
4. Kouzes JM, Posner BZ. The Leadership Challenge. How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass Publishers; 1995.
5. American College of Clinical Engineering. Accessed April 8, 2013.
1) Five practices of exemplary leadership include the following, except:
a) Challenge the process when the outcome is unknown
b) Inspire a shared vision
c) Enable others to act
d) Challenge the process when the outcome is known
2) The following is true about leadership and management, except:
a) Leadership and management are complementary.
b) Leadership and management are the same thing.
c) The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.
d) The manager’s job is to plan, organize, and coordinate.
3) In order to recruit people in a shared vision, the leaders must do the following, except:
a) Know their people.
b) Speak their language.
c) Express enthusiasm in communicating their vision.
d) Do what is in their own (leader’s) best interest.
4. Successful leadership is possible through the following, except:
a) Team effort
b) Involving key staff in the project
c) Involving all staff in the project
d) Giving power to all staff
5) The Joint Commission uses the term ________ for an individual who sets expectations, develops plans, and implements procedures to assess and improve the quality of the organization’s governance, management, and clinical and support functions and processes.
d) none of the above
Answers: 1-d; 2-b; 3-d; 4-b; 5-a