Filling the Gaps
I am an eternal optimist and have always
been positive in the way that I see things.
If I were to meet you, I would think well
of you, unless you were to prove otherwise. I can also be optimistic to a fault – to
the point that I am overly idealistic. I have
been burnt many times by people who
know they can take advantage of this. But
still, at 62, I am an optimist and don’t
really regret it.
As a young man, I vividly remember
my Dad, Ed, being cautious and thinking
the worst of things. His own father died
young and in his family of 15 siblings
he was the “responsible” older brother.
Even in his early 20s, when his younger
brothers and sisters would misbehave,
my grandmother would tell them: “Wait
until Ed gets home.” He and his two older
brothers financially supported the family.
He also served in WWII, as top ball gunner in a B- 17 bomber, and survived 35
missions over Europe.
Many times my father and I would
watch sporting events together. When our
teams were losing, he would often think
the worst and say: “They’re going to lose.”
In response, I would often say: “Hey, I
think they can win!” This exchange tells
you volumes about the relationship I had
with my Dad.
I do my best to positively cope with
and understand those in my life. Without
question the most challenging and some-
times baffling aspect of my role is under-
standing why people do certain things,
and what they’re thinking about when
they do them. It is sometimes a fine line
of acceptability that separates us from
right and wrong, and as leaders we are
held accountable for the actions of those
we oversee. We might say it’s unfair that
we (our departments, hospitals, or orga-
nizations) are responsible for the actions
of one individual. However, it is what it
is, and for this reason we must be vigilant
in what we know and hear from others.
How often have you received information that you simply don’t know what to
do with? Was it a sexist remark, or something that a physician said that was insulting to a staff member? Do you just let it go
and attribute it to a little horsing around,
or perhaps that it’s “just the way they are,”
and tell people not to let it get to them?
Letting it ride is certainly the easiest thing
to do. But in our world of employee rights
and legal definitions of “stressful environment” and “harassment,” we all must be
cautious of how people perceive things
and be direct in addressing them. In many
ways, as leaders, we are like sociologists
and psychologists trying to understand
people and their behaviors.
Now take into consideration someone like me who tends to see the best in
people. I have been known to be too easy
and forgiving. I also have a tendency to
be non-confrontational. That is why it’s
critical for me to have a strong communication network when these problems
present themselves. I have a management
team that I routinely share issues with.
Our professional management team is
also very tightly knit, and we pass things
by one another openly. Finally, I have
a very supportive and expert human
resources department that is objective
when it comes to personnel problems.
This optimistic personality trait is just
one aspect of my personality. In order
to achieve a healthy balance of how we
perform as healthcare leaders, it’s critical
that we understand ourselves, and what
it is that we do well (and not so well).
We can then create networking systems
that give us the perspective and strength
in the areas we are weakest in. In all of
my leadership endeavors, I have always
tried to insure that I have a team around
me that are primarily “good people,” and
in some cases are individuals who have
strengths that can bolster my weaknesses.
I have that in my current position, and
did the same when I had leadership roles
There’s no need to apologize for who
we are, but knowing our weaknesses and
the practical things we need to do to fill
gaps is important. Appreciate the things
you do well. We all have our own approach to leadership, and that is part of
the style we develop over time. Appreciate who you are first, and then have the
wisdom to seek the knowledge of who
Gordon Ah Tye, FAHRA is director of imaging and
radiation oncology services for Kaweah Delta Health
Care District in Visalia, CA. He holds a bachelor’s degree
in biological sciences from California State University in
Fresno. Gordon is a past president of AHRA, received the
AHRA Gold Award in 2001, and received the 2006
Minnie for Most Effective Radiology Administrator of the
year. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
By Gordon Ah Tye, FAHRA
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