Healthcare Leadership Tribal in TED Talk Essay

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As David Logan mentions in the 2009 TED talk called “Tribal Leadership,” most people are in what he called Level Three Tribes: functioning at a high level of personal and professional performance but lacking the broader visions that can unite people and change the world. Reflecting on Logan’s message, I have become more aware of the ways I remain stuck at either Level Two or Level Three throughout my life but am passionate about moving up and into Level Four and hopefully, Level Five. The tribes I belong to are many, including more than one at the professional level. For example, I am a member of several different professional organizations, am a team leader in a healthcare institution as well as in class, and am also a member of an extended group of healthcare workers and patient advocates in the community. In my personal life, I am also a member of various tribes including those that intersect with ethnicity, socioeconomic class, and religion. My goal is to focus more on the visions, values, and principles that can bring together disparate people from various walks of life and interest groups. I am a tribal leader now, but know that I can be a more effective and highly functioning tribal leader when I aspire to shift focus from Level Three to Level Four.

If I want to move my Level Three tribes forward into Level Four, it requires the leaders to engage in gentle nudging of tribal members, as Logan (2009) points out. Each member of the tribe needs to come to a personal realization of the need for change, motivated intrinsically.

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In healthcare, one of the catalysts for both individual and tribal change has been legislation and shifts in the public paradigm related to social justice in healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) dominated discourse in healthcare reform, creating a new set of values that have motivated members of my professional tribe to reach and strive towards the next level. In fact, research shows how the ACA has loosened barriers to change and promoted higher-level thinking in healthcare (Delmatoff & Lazarus, 2014). As a result of the ACA and the ensuing discourse on social justice and public policy reform, healthcare managers and leaders have started to envision themselves as part of Level Four tribes with shared values rather than emphasizing our competitive worth in a “I’m Great and You’re Not” mentality (Logan, 2009). Unfortunately, the prevalent tone in scholarly discourse related to nursing leadership has generally not moved from Level Three tribal identifications, with “leaderism” and old modes of division and competition dominant still (Hyde, Bresnen, Hodgson, et al., 2017, p. 1).

However, there are some promising moves within healthcare, such as the shift from focusing on leader or manager core competencies towards a greater emphasis on the organization’s competencies and how to best meet patient care….....

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Delmatoff, J. & Lazarus, I.R. (2014). The most effective leadership style for the new landscape of healthcare. Journal of Healthcare Management 59(4): 245-249.

Hyde, P., Bresnen, M., Hodgson, D.E., et al. (2017). Leadership talk. Academy of Management Proceedings 2014(1):

Krawczyk-So?tys, A. (2017). From healthcare manager’s competencies to healthcare organization’s competencies. Journal of Management 7(2): 9-15.

Logan, D. (2009). Tribal leadership. TED.

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