Dr. Richard Winters is an emergency physician at Mayo Clinic. As director of leadership development for the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Dr. Winters delivers programs that train leaders at all levels of healthcare organizations worldwide. As an executive coach, he provides coaching for Mayo Clinic leaders. Together, Marcel Schwantes and Dr. Winters discuss his book, You’re the Leader, Now What? Between personal and professional stories, Dr. Winters shares the importance and skills needed for a leader who listens, sees varied perspectives, and engages with their employees.
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In chapter 1 of his book, You’re the Leader, Now What?, Dr. Richard Winters calls out leaders as having a decision-making flaw, we overplay our expertise and at times wrongly let that guide our actions. Dr. Winters shares stories from his personal and professional life that lean into solving this blind spot. “Look for these moments where we’re uncomfortable, those moments where we feel others are being mean to us are oftentimes the moments where maybe we’re not being the best way we can to them.” [16:00]
The Need to Be Right
Who doesn’t like to be right? Dr. Winters nails it with this description, “I like to feel like I’m adding something to the world, and I like to have a sense that my expertise matters, my experience matters.” [17:28] In chapter 3 of Dr. Winters’ book he talks about getting off the dancefloor and stepping up to the balcony. He explains this metaphor as removing yourself from your reflexive ‘in the moment’ input and rising above to the balcony where you can see other perspectives and understand more than you might right away. Not only can leaders step up to the balcony but they can bring others up to see a wider perspective.
Burnout and Wellbeing
“I think it’s important to think things from multiple levels as opposed to just us or just the boss.”[26:48] When it comes to burnout, Dr. Winters explains that it comes down to three levels. Organizational, in which you look at the organization you’re working with… do they respect you and your time? Interpersonal, in which you look at how you interact with each other, do you have a voice and positive relationships? And lastly, which most people tend to start with…Individual, in which you look at how you’re taking care of your personal well-being. He also shares the acronym from Carol Riff’s Psychological Well-being research…PAGERS.
Purpose – A sense that the organization is aligned with our purpose, values, and mission.
Autonomy – A sense that what we say is being heard.
Growth – A sense that we’re in a place to get better.
Environmental Mastery – A sense that we have the resources we need.
Relationships – A sense that our relationships are overall positive.
Self-acceptance – A sense of acceptance of our decisions, forgiving poor decisions.
In chapter 5, Dr. Winters lists key drivers of engagement for leadership: Develop, recognize, inform, value, engage, respect, and supervise. He shares a statistic that shows just how much these drivers matter in which for every one-point change, the burnout rate went down 9% “Just some small incremental change in the ability to engage with someone from a personal growth perspective or to help them feel safe about having conversations… Just one incremental point of change can have a huge effect on individuals and organizations.” [32:17]
Fears and Worries
Addressing fears and worries is an important part of decision-making. “If you’re not listening to the fears and worries while you are trying to figure out the solution to the problem, your strategy is going to be shot.” [35:17] One great thing about fears and worries, Dr. Winters explains they can be the motivation and energy to cause everyone to come together to work toward the right solution. Many times this can be a fear of vulnerability, but leaders can invoke the strategies of engagement to bring people together and bring the fears and worries to light for the benefit of the organization.
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