1. Hader, Richard PhD, NE-BC, RN, CHE, CPHQ, FAAN

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Everything is going right in your leadership career-you're meeting goals, objectives, and timelines; volume and patient revenue are up; staff members are engaged; and patient satisfaction scores have never been better-when suddenly, the management team is called to a special meeting. The hallways are buzzing with rumors, which are confirmed when your highly respected, long-term CEO announces his resignation. The response from the management team is one of shock, fear, and sadness. There's a sudden sense of insecurity: Will the rhythm of success soon be a fond memory? Who'll lead the organization in the future? How will this change in leadership impact you, your staff, and, most importantly, patient care?

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Although this is a hypothetical situation, we can all recall similar times in our professional careers-just when everything seemed to be moving according to a precise direction, an unwelcomed change threatened to interrupt our hard-earned cadence of success. What's the best way to respond? Should you be proactive, neutral, or reactive to the change?


Unexpected change is difficult because there's little or no time to digest how it will affect your agenda. Being proactive can prove positive if you believe that you're on the right track and are highly committed to the change. Getting ahead of the curve may grant you access to the decision-making process, allowing you to share your thoughts and ideas and leading to a greater influence regarding the change. However, getting on board with a new change before doing your own research and engaging in due diligence may cause major disruption that you aren't prepared to handle. Change for change's sake can disenfranchise staff members and be interpreted as demonstrating poor leadership skills.


Neutral action may make it appear as if you aren't engaged in the change process. Proceeding with too much caution might cause major delays, which may leave your area of responsibility spending an inordinate amount of time attempting to catch up. If, however, you're taking a neutral position based on strategic thinking, it might be time well spent. Anticipating unintended consequences of the change while simultaneously implementing plans to mitigate untoward reactions may be the right course of action.


By being reactive and taking a step back from the change, you'll allow others to be the experimenters. Gathering information on how your colleagues are implementing the change may save time and energy and ease transitional burdens. However, reacting is traditionally a characteristic of a follower not a leader; staff members typically prefer a leader who's dynamic and progressive, not passive and complacent.


Whether you chose to be proactive, neutral, or reactive to change may yield both positive and negative consequences. The most important concept to remember regarding change is that you should consistently be a transformational leader. A leader who provides vision, inspiration, motivation, advice, honesty, and trust will help facilitate change and ensure controlled destabilization during the process. The beat of the cadence will always continue, but outstanding results hinge on the one beating the drum.


Richard Hader

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