Learning to lead

Eva StarrakBy

At some point in time, we’ve all found ourselves asking, “what’s in it for me if I step up to take responsibility?” Will we get a promotion, a raise, will our colleagues even notice?  For Leanne Thomas, a Behavioral Specialist at the Children’s Integrated Center for Success (CICS), she found that choice – stepping forward to embrace personal responsibility, changes everything.

Last Fall, CICS experienced exponential growth in their patient population due to overwhelming need for their services in the Lehigh Valley. As a result, the staff size quickly increased to match this growing demand. Without sufficient policies and procedures in place to manage both the patient population and the needs of new staff, the team at CICS were left feeling out of touch with their patients and frustrated by confusing and, often, conflicting streams of communication.

As a team, CICS reached out to Flip the Clinic to find ways to add value for patients, employees, and their community. They wanted Joy and they needed greater Nourishment.

Their initial goal focused on co-creating a practice environment that resonates for everyone involved by addressing the human side of health care. However, one core theme continuously bubbled to the surface that needed to be addressed before the team could tackle anything else – the need for all members of the team, no matter their position, to be invested in the future of CICS and act to support that ideal.

“Things were a mess,” Leanne offered when we spoke with her about the personal “ah-ha” moment she experienced.  She was facing a wave of burnout and felt cautious of offering suggestions for improvements to the culture of CICS. This mindset grew to be overwhelming, and took a toll on her health, as well as her relationships both within CICS and outside the office.

“I had this moment where it just hit me,” Leanne continued.  “If I had the idea to change something, I had the responsibility to act on that change and build the team to help make it happen. If I stayed quiet, I was hiding not just the idea but the opportunity for it to grow.”

CICS is not just Leanne’s place of employment, but a place where she has grown to care about her patients, her co-workers, and the importance of the mission within her community. This small shift reignited Leanne’s passion for her work. Leanne has taken charge of her health, choosing healthier options and implementing exercise in her daily routine. She has also noticed a boost in her overall self-confidence and creativity. “Challenging my beliefs about what I could and couldn’t do opened my mind to the possibility of sharing my unique skills and partnering with colleagues to learn new methods and tools to increase the impact of our work at CICS.”

Leanne has since found ways to celebrate the achievements, both big and small, of her patients and colleagues at CICS. CICS dedicated a display wall to showcasing these awards – and it has become a fun way of recognizing members of the CICS community for their unique strengths and interests.

By assuming responsibility for her part in ensuring the future success of CICS, Leanne found the courage to become a positive force for change – and discovered a renewed sense of joy in her work.