I Want to Start a Movement: Leaders Take Turns
I once worked in an organization where billing was decentralized and processed using a variety of software tools. I was more than a little worried, and as it turned out, I had good cause. A significant amount of revenue was missing in one department. It took a while to find the misplaced $250,000 that was stuck in the billing system, but I did it. A planned upgrade had been implemented without testing. Had the test been done first, they would have seen the claims were not processing properly. After some apologies and assurances on our part, an extension had been graciously granted by the payer. Then we had a few short weeks to figure out how to get these claims out.
After another misstep, we were down to three days. I recruited people from all over the organization to help. Our only hope was to handwrite as many claims as possible. Everyone was assembled, pens in hand, with print-outs to copy. We were underway and more help was coming. Good thing, too, as I had no experience as a billing manager. I can recruit, I can give directions, but in terms of process efficiency, I was in over my head. Along came a billing manager from another department. She took one look around, and then she took a chance. She told me she had a better idea about how to organize the work. She didn’t know me, and I had only briefly met her. I had also heard that she was really good at her job so I asked her to take over. As a result, she was able to organize the work in a logical order. I took her directions along with the rest, and we received payment for most of those claims. In that moment, I felt very lucky that she arrived. I was grateful for her leadership.
Leaders need to know when it is their turn and when someone else has to step in.
In David Marquet’s book, Turn the Ship Around, the submarine had multiple leaders. Each person had a role to play. Others depended on them to step in and step up when their expertise was needed. When we share leadership, we share genius. We shape opportunity for amazing achievements, and we employ energy rather than waste it.
To all leaders: Be ready when you are called to step aside if someone else is the right one for the job. We all have gifts and unique talents. We’re all working towards the same goal and on the same team. Take turns.