Leaders and Leadership, Building Trust By Carolyn Valo, MS, RHIT, FAHIMA

Leaders and Leadership, Building Trust By Carolyn Valo, MS, RHIT, FAHIMA

TO LEAD IMPLIES many things—leading a project, a self-man- aged or self-directed team activity, or becoming a department director, manager, or supervisor, all the way to extending and applying gained skills, advanced education, and experiential learning to perhaps lead a large enterprise.

As a member of AHIMA, there are many tools, resources, and learning opportunities available to each one of us, such as the Leadership Academy, other related online education, the Body of Knowledge, and the Communities of Practice, all of which are accessible from AHIMA’s Web site. Leadership, however, goes beyond these notable educational tools and resources. AHIMA and each component state association provide opportunities to expand our learning around leading and serving in leadership roles through volunteering.

Learning to become a leader goes beyond skill building and experiential learning; for many, including me, networking with our peers helps us identify role models and mentors with leadership experience. Combined, these tools, resources, and networking options can help provide pathways to becoming a leader, if desired.

Inspiring Trust Trust is a key imperative of leadership. In fact, trust and leader- ship may even seem synonymous. As a leader, trust is at the core of effectively leading people, processes, tasks, or activities.

Leaders who inspire trust must gain trust as a first good step in leadership. A high degree of trust between a leader and his or her staff or among team members helps reach desired goals or outcomes. Leaders who display or extend trust and demon- strate active listening skills encourage open participation, mo- tivate individuals, and more importantly, they inspire others to demonstrate trust in team or project work.

Trust requires clarity (of goals and roles), confidence (in staff and team members), consistency (in how processes are ap- plied), and active listening skills in order to encourage all to participate in tasks and activities. Trust helps foster common understanding and collaboration, which leads to efficiently

reaching desired goals or the organization’s vision and mission. As an example of how an HIM manager can inspire trust, as-

sume that a manager just learned accounts receivables, or AR (days or dollars), are outside the target. The manager decides to seek direct input from the staff that performs the day-to-day functions related to AR.

When the manager takes, as a first step, engaging the staff to problem-solve the missed AR target, the staff members feel confident that the manager trusts in their knowledge, skills, and ability and are more likely to be motivated to reach decisions on how to realign and maintain the AR target. In addition, this approach likely fosters open and active staff collaboration and

participation. In this example, inspired trust results in gained trust, with staff taking ownership for monitoring and develop- ing practices or processes related to maintaining the depart- ment’s AR target.

As you explore becoming a leader or encouraging others to lead, consider this statement on leadership skills: “Leadership is not exerting power over others or exhorting them to follow you. Rather, it results from your example of empowering others to step up and lead. Leaders do that by learning to lead them- selves, becoming self-aware and behaving authentically.”1

Note 1. George, Bill. “Leadership Skills Start with Self-Awareness.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 26, 2011. www.startri- bune.com/business/116923928.html.

Trust helps foster common understanding and collaboration, which leads to efficiently reaching desired goals or the organization’s vision and mission.

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