A Loop for Getting Somewhere

We’re faced with what seems to be impossible challenges: doing more, doing better, and doing it all with less, while at the same time promoting professional joy, facilitating engagement, and ensuring legal and regulatory compliance. On top of that, the expectations of the families and communities we serve too often goes beyond what we can meet.   And dare I say, the expectations of our front-line colleagues has followed suit in some cases.

There’s a team leadership loop I’ve observed when teams are at their best.  I call it the MLSA loop: mindfulness, learning, sensemaking, and action.   The learning and action steps are the easiest for people to understand (but often the hardest for teams to do). Whereas mindfulness and sensemaking are hardest to understand, but the best teams seem to do it naturally.

Sensemaking is facilitated when there is sufficient wisdom present, which comes from practical knowledge of theory and best practice, and accumulation of thoughtfully and honestly reflected experiences.   Sensemaking can be recognized when its there, but its hard to insert when its missing. It can be nurtured when leaders support training, professional development, provide time for open reflection, and have a plan for recognizing, and retaining senior people.

Mindfulness is facilitated when high-reliability attributes are present along with humility and acceptance. Humility is necessary to create the right environment of openness and collective presence. Acceptance is necessary in order to eliminate the negative emotions that can derail a team.  Acceptance also helps drive the needed amount of focus a team needs to stay on the correct rail.

Collective presence refers to the combinations of team alertness and calmness, and  team diversity and respect, which allow for optimal flow of information and ideas.

Applying this loop to the broader context of today’s healthcare environment could aid leaders as they struggle with the seemingly impossible challenges they face. There is hope and solace for the beleaguered leader in this model of how effective teams face complex, high-risk, and high-emotion situations.

Achieving mindfulness before we begin to learn ensures we are open, thoughtful, and broad minded. Learning before we make sense of things, ensures that we frame things in a helpful, focused and positive way, which will drive optimal and flexible action. More importantly perhaps, is that mindfulness enhances our ability to assert a positive and confident outlook, and meet the challenges with confidence, calm, and the positive outlook and impenetrable will others need from us to stay on track.

Be mindful my friend.