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A member of an external contract
team, I worked closely with a senior manager
of a healthcare organization during a quality improvement program. The program
involved several enhancement strategies, and
during implementation, the support of
senior management was imperative to ensure buy-in and compliance from
clinicians, patients and care coordinators. I have worked for similar
organizations in the past and have witnessed the success associated with a
senior management project leader who is competent, effective and supports the
four emotional intelligence competencies. I have also witnessed the challenges
associated with implementing the program through a partnership with a senior manager who was not competent, effective
or had the four emotional intelligence competencies. This paper will reflect on
the success of program implementation with a senior manager – Sandra – who as
competent, effective and supported the four emotional intelligence
competencies.

            As a former
care coordinator and senior clinician, Sandra’s capability as a senior manager
in the implementation of a quality improvement program was based on her
experience as both a clinician and a care coordinator. This gave her the
knowledge, skills and behaviours associated with competency. The key behaviours
possessed by Sandra included leadership abilities and program implementation
abilities across each area of the process including clinician and care
coordinators. In addition, Sandra was also able to use her high level of
emotional intelligence to inspire the team and enable effective implementation
of the program.

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            During the
implementation phase of the program, receiving buy-in
and acceptance from clinicians is often a barrier. Through her ability to be
self-aware of her emotions and feelings during meetings with clinicians, Sandra
was able to create a culture of self-awareness, understanding and empathy. The
creation of this culture enabled the clinicians to trust Sandra, to trust her
proposals and to eventually accept the program. By being self-aware and
inspiring those around her to be self-aware and confident, Sandra created a
cohesive team rooted in this intelligence competency. The self-awareness was
also extended to clinicians practice, enabling them to feel confident and self-aware
of their own abilities. This proved to be important during the implementation
phase which requires many clinicians to change their knowledge and their
practice.

            Sandra also
incorporated her own ability to self-managed into the implementation phase of
the program. I have often seen Sandra in a heated or emotional meeting, and as
the leader, it would be easy to get caught up in the emotion and discourse occurring.
However, Sandra was always able to manage her own emotions and communicate
genuinely and effectively. By providing empathy and the freedom to express
opinions regardless of whether they were negative or positive, Sandra created
an open environment that enabled discourse accentuated the positive and led the
team toward established goals.

            Given that
Sandra was both a clinician and a care coordinator prior to being a senior
leader, she was able to quickly and effectively understand and empathize with
these members of the team. Sandra’s social outlook and understanding made her
an effective leader. When clinicians would present her with challenges in the
quality improvement process, Sandra knew exactly
what they were talking about – because she had been presented with similar
challenges as a clinician. With this background and experience, Sandra was able
to create a team that identified challenges, explore the root causes and used
the quality improvement implementation strategies to tackle these challenges.
Ultimately this approach created a collaborative process with very few
challenges along the way – because Sandra has identified and mitigated them
prior to implementation.

            Sandra’s
relationship management was also rooted in her previous experience as a
clinician and care coordinator. By understanding those, she was leading Sandra able to create and maintain
relationships with all members of a team. When outside contractors are brought
in to implement a quality improvement strategy, we often see as the “bad guys,” this never happened with Sandra. She
was able to make relationships with our team based on equality and a common
goal and to create relationships with other members of the team based on a
shared goal to improve care.

These quality improvement programs
are often difficult to integrate into practice because clinicians and care
coordinators see the program as negative. By implementing a quality improvement
program, the implication is that work needs to be improved. Sandra never
enabled this thought to be vocalized or to permeate the implementation process.
By remaining compassionate to the challenges verbalized, maintaining
self-management and controlling her emotions (and the emotions of those around
her) Sandra created a team that was effective and successful.

            I have met
many leaders in my life. However, Sandra
stands out as one of the best, a quality I believed is established by her
emotional intelligence. These projects are complicated and involve a lot of
communication, improved processes and policies. Given the number of individuals
involved in these quality improvement processes and the related stigma often
connected to these projects (this is an improvement program because your work
needs improvement), it is easy to see
teams and collaboration fall apart. With Sandra’s leadership and her ability to
create a collaborative team environment, this program was implemented
successfully and has demonstrated successes across the organization.

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