A few weeks ago, I spent several hours in a company provided Leadership Training Session. This type of training/ education is a clear demonstration that our organization is committed to an investment in our leaders. Considering the current global climate in staff development, this is refreshing and perhaps outside the norm. Good for me and my teammates!!

              While the training session was HR related, it did bring to the forefront, for me at least, that we have a significant leadership void in the Healthcare industry. This is not local, regional or restricted to one country—or truly even one industry. Hear me out. Oh, we do not have a shortage of BODIES in leadership roles. Far from it. What we DO have, however, is a shortage of people with exceptional leadership skills and training. We have a global scarcity of people with the ability to effectively, positively LEAD others toward a common goal or mission. Why are leaders of this caliber so elusive? Where are the unicorns hiding?

              As I contemplated unicorns and their whereabouts, I reflected on the leaders I have worked with throughout my career. Most were good, solid managers with the appropriate skills. One or two were absolute Napoleonic horrors and there are several stunning examples of those mysterious unicorns. Because my mind works as it does and I think in the fashion that I do—I made a list of the traits I think a leader should possess. And, because there has to be balance in my universe–I made a Unicorn Leader list. Under each name on that list, I wrote the traits and behaviors each of those wonderful Unicorn mentors exhibit daily. I then compared the list.

             Of the seven most positive influential leaders, the elusive unicorns, I have had the privilege to work with, each consistently demonstrate the following:

Respect, Trust, Honor, Passion for their calling, Patient Centric attitude, Authenticity, Humble Teachable Spirit

           These unicorns, these extraordinary leaders, seem to know, innately, that there is more to leadership. They “get” the human factor. Not a single one of them is a pushover, a wimp or a conflict avoider. Quite the opposite. They each believe in accountability—not the “catch phrase of the day” accountability- but true accountability to themselves and to their people. They exhibit respect to all members of the team and share expectations, fully expecting them to be not just met, but exceeded. Each of these leaders earn respect by demonstrating respect to every one they meet—from the coffee cart barista to the Chief Medical Officer. They pick up the stray candy wrapper on the floor of the lobby, stop by the department to say hello to the front line team, smile at the lab tech and speak to them by name in the hall. They remain excited and enthusiastic, even on the most chaotic of days and they are voracious learners, rarely if ever assuming they know more than another. Where did they LEARN these traits and why are these traits absent in other leaders?

           I have a theory about that topic that I will share and explore at another time, but for now, consider this:

           As you walk through the doors of your facility tomorrow, take a moment to pause and ask yourself if you are a BODY in a leadership role—or a UNICORN.

Then, behave accordingly.

Happy Week Ahead!