What do you call a culture that values team accomplishment over individual success? Where leaders build for a future that may not come to fruition until long after they leave? Where everyone is valued, and gratitude becomes the common language? Where the “we” always supersedes the “me”?
Some may call it idealistic. Others call it unrealistic. I call it brilliant.
Workplace culture is a vehicle to engage people, spark innovation, delight customers, and foster brand loyalty. But there’s a deeper intention behind truly great workplace cultures that both expect and empower teams to put aside their egos to accomplish something amazing.
A top-down approach to leadership rarely results in a team that feels it can truly change the world. Making a difference requires a model in which everyone has a sense of ownership and autonomy.
In health care, the time has come to redesign our delivery systems around our patients. And the most sustainable way to accomplish this change is to empower our frontline teams that know how to best serve communities in greatest need.
After more than two years of being on the clinical front lines of a global pandemic, today’s care teams are exhausted. And in some ways, the idea of redesigning our business now seems to some to be the last thing we need.
However, there has never been a more significant time or imperative for clinical teams to feel connected to their workplaces, their patients, and one another. The only way to make this connection a reality is to rethink how, when, and where teams deliver care.
I’m a long-standing advocate of the patient experience and frontline innovation, and I credit our organization’s success to our culture of team empowerment. It’s the fuel that creates connection and meaning, fosters relationships, and supports long and fulfilling careers. We refer to it as a “culture of brilliance.”
Fifty years ago, most physician practices were hierarchical, with financial and decision-making power vested in a small minority of “super owners.” But in 1975, a small group of emergency-room doctors who believed that a wholly physician-owned practice would deliver the best care became the partner of choice for hospitals, and attracted top talent to found Vituity as a democratic partnership that offers every doctor a path to ownership: a culture of brilliance.
An organization creates a culture of brilliance by nurturing an environment where passion thrives and success comes through unified purpose. It designs a sustainable culture by aligning its partners around a shared mission and vision, and by helping its teams trust one another’s skills and expertise to make it come to life.
Building a culture of brilliance as a set of founding principles has helped Vituity grow from a small emergency-medicine group into a national multispecialty partnership, evolving to meet the needs of our patients and clients in the face of policy shifts, regulatory upheaval, and even a global pandemic.
You might ask: Aren’t humans hardwired for self-interest? Could a culture of brilliance, placing such radical emphasis on the success of others rather than individuals, backfire?
My answer: We never lose by giving or serving too much to help each other succeed. Most constructs reward individual effort—but what if you were only rewarded when you helped someone else reach their goal? Now that’s different. That is brilliance.
To make a culture of brilliance a reality within your own organization, in any industry, I offer five principles that have proved foundational to me throughout my career, and that I continue to build on and foster:
Vituity is committed to frontline innovation and patient-centric care. vituity.com/who-we-are.
Originally published in Harvard Business Review.