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Leadership Learning from the Summer of Love


Clinical leadership in the world of PDPM may be a 21st century phenomenon, but there are some powerful—and positive—leadership lessons from 1969 and Woodstock, according to Relly Nadler, PsyD, MCC, founder of True North Leadership, an executive and organizational development firm. A teenaged Nadler and his friends headed to New York 50 years ago for the famed music festival, and it was not only joyous fun but a learning experience, he says.

Among the leadership lessons from Woodstock:

■ New knowledge and experiences are exciting. When under stress, facility teams may be focusing on the negative side of having to learn and implement new ways of doing things. Nadler says, “Change happens in three stages—goodbye to the old, muddling through, and then hello to the new. We’re at the ‘hello’ now [with PDPM], and we need to help everyone get there as well,” he says. At the same time, people go through these stages in different time frames, and some go through them more quickly than others. 
However, productivity goes down more during the muddling stage, and that is why the crafting of the hello is key, he says.

“You need someone who is excited about the change to introduce hello and have support available for those having trouble with goodbye.”

■ Music can ease stress. A catchy melody may be the last thing on staff members’ minds while trying to implement a new reimbursement model.

However, some favorite tunes playing in the office, a lunchtime concert, or a staffer deejaying some Friday afternoon music can “release brain chemicals to enhance mood,” Nadler says.

“Music is key to social connections, which is essential when you are making a big change and need everyone on board and engaged. It can help send a message of unity—we’re all in this together.”

■ Attitude is contagious. People watch leaders for cues about how to feel. Their emotions are contagious. Anxiety and negativity spread, and when fear comes up, it can paralyze people, Nadler says. Leaders, he suggests, need to help their teams see the benefits of change, and they need to celebrate milestones and reward successes.

■ Keeping the temperature down enhances harmony. Watch for signs of building tensions or accelerating stress. These include people interrupting each other in meetings, less laughter and conversations in breakrooms, or disagreements that turn into arguments. “You need to be able to assuage emotions and put forth a positive solution,” Nadler says.