Are You A Leader Or A Manager

by Cancergeek

In many of my speaking engagements, I use the following phrase:

The words that we use build the world of healthcare. Your words, impact my world, my journey, as a patient inside of healthcare.

Yet I am bombarded by the words of manufacturing when I walk the halls of hospitals and clinics on a weekly basis.

Last week I spent time in Toronto, Ohio, and Puerto Rico at several different hospitals.

I overheard adminstrators and physicians using words and phrases that resemble the manufacturing lines of Ford rather than the service of healthcare.

Operational efficiency.

Asset utilization.

Fleet management.



Unplanned downtime.


Days cash on hand.

I understand the utility of the above words to measure the “business” of medicine.

In the management of healthcare, and all of the people, process, and technology it encompasses.

That is the fundamental problem with healthcare, we have created an institution of administrators and physicians that have become managers, or managed.

Seth Godin defines managers as people that work to get their employees to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper. (sounds a lot like productivity, efficiency, and utilization)

Seth reminds us that leaders, on the other hand, know where they’d like to go, but understand that they can’t get there without their tribe, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen.

Managers seek authority.

Managers want to be at the top of the organizational chart so that they know who to ask permission and whom they can get to do the same thing tomorrow, while doing it faster and cheaper.

Leaders take responsibility.

Leaders care less about organizational charts, permission, and the appluase of crowds.

Leaders do.

Leaders act first and apologize later.

Leaders take the time to listen, understand, set a vision, and empower those within their tribe to do and act as well.

Leaders understand the measurements of the past, of today and use that “history” to break free of those constraints to build a future that is very different from our past.

Leaders do not want to build a bigger, better, faster, cheaper widget.

Leaders want to build the “service” that we all desire and run out to tell our friends and family.

Leaders meet the needs to enable the wants.

Healthcare has more than enough managers.

Healthcare needs leaders.

Leaders that delight at the N of 1.

When you look in the mirror, ask yourself, are you a manager or a leader?

I lead at the N of 1.

As always feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter as cancergeek.


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