March 2, 2023

A Quest for Leadership

Written by: Nancie Lee Cummins, CFE, CHA, CIFHA, OHCC, CHCM, CHCO, CORCM   

This is part 2 in the Leadership essay series from members of the American Institute of Healthcare Compliance (AIHC).  Please read Becoming a Resilient Leader During Trying Times written by Joanne Byron.

Leadership has always been a personal quest through my life.  I remember actually defining my objectives in 2017 with one of the classes through AIHC. The good news I was able to review what I have written and felt like I had made progress in my own development since that time. These comments are a growth in process in which I added other tools in my own development. The article which was published on AIHC which I reviewed brought in a couple of new perspectives to tools that I could implement.

  • The Pareto Principle
  • Remote Workers

The Pareto Principle of using the 80 percent time with 20 percent effective. I do a lot of training of compliance officers and realize the time that is being spent could be improved. This could be in the format of hitting the 20% in the beginning of the Go to meeting which would also give them a clear message and the following part of the call more relaxed and interactive. This principle could also add to less calls with more impact of material in a lessor amount of time.

Remote Worker is the category I am in. While I spend time doing onsite inspections, you still go home to your “home office” and are faced with not being around other advisors. For me this has never been an issue of “performing my position”, but time sensitive of walking away at the end of the day. I have been fortunate to be able to reach out to my director or other advisors when I need to. My personal goal is to remember that I can reach out, as we are a team. I don’t have to feel like I have to do a project on my own. Meetings are as needed, informative and keep the connection with the home office consistent. I do like the comment of coming in with a positive solution when there is a challenge. This opens up to other ideas which comes from the group which ultimately benefits the organization.

One of the tools that I have implemented has been using Mel Robbins, “The 5 Second Rule”. This concept, when used for when facing resistance, utilizes the tool of counting backwards, “5-4-3-2-1 and move”. This keeps the time management in place and clears out the problem tasks.

The article focusing on Resilient Leader talks about what traits are required being in a leadership role. I do identify with stepping out of the box, using my creativity with problem solving. With time working in organizations and continuing my own education, being open to different learning paths, has been crucial in my own development. This process is life learning. I will continue to educate myself and be open to changes in and out of the work place as well as the private sector.

Defining my leadership skills allows me to identify strengths and weaknesses and my effectiveness in influencing others.

My purpose in leading has always been for the ultimate good of the organization I am working with. The goal is to be able to conquer the specific challenges and offer solutions along with a plan that can be developed and implemented. I’ve always felt that when working with people for a common cause that it is necessary to pool everyone’s strengths. It is important to work collaboratively to accomplish goals. It is rewarding when everyone involved is aligned with the vision and works together for a positive outcome.

An opportunity to lead medical assisting classes at a local junior college allowed me to utilize a lot of my earlier technical and motivational skills. The challenge was how to help them reach within themselves and accomplish their dreams and goals.

As a leader, it wasn’t about me. Yes, I had to communicate enthusiasm and encouragement not only by word but by example. At this particular time, I was also a commissioner in city government and was active among many charitable organizations. While this was fulfilling, I still had an inner drive for growth in improving my own leadership skills.

The role of Compliance Officer for an association with 200 doctors had its challenges. My task was to educate providers and staff through seminars on rules and regulations with Medicare. Educating myself in policies and procedures and knowing the “technical” side was crucial. I would work with practices that had specific issues to come up with resolutions mitigating current risk. This part of my professional life required implementing problem solving techniques with the practices. This approach allowed me to guide them to interpret their own information so they could be empowered to establish their own standards with goals and objectives. During these years I found myself primarily involved with providing structure and direction.

The most challenging aspect of having my own medical billing and consulting company was working with people. Opposed to leading by providing seminars, motivating various clinical staff meant getting to know them and their capabilities and being able to let go. I needed to allow them to do their job and resist the reflex of micro-managing. The business grew to be a success. The staff felt rewarded by their own accomplishments and saw the organization excel.

My professional development over the years has been a continual foundation of building blocks that has brought me to where I am today. I now have a strong base of compliance in healthcare as well as an Accreditation Advisor with one of CMS’s Accrediting Organizations. I have also added the CFE, Certified Fraud Examiner through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Layers of my technical skills inclusive of leadership skills have helped build my character and values. This process has been a constant journey.

In summary I have learned a lot about my own career path. At times I have felt inadequate but I have always had the quest for more knowledge. Realizing that leadership is a learned attribute is comforting.

I have set the standards high in my pursuit of excellence, and constantly feel an internal struggle to improve. The phrase “Achieving collective excellence” really spoke to me. To understand that all people contribute in different ways includes my own development and gives me my life purpose in the pursuit of excellence and making a difference.

The author, Nancie Lee Cummins, is an Accreditation Advisor with The Compliance Team Accreditation Organization. She is a long-time member of the American Institute of Healthcare Compliance (AIHC) with the following credentials: Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Healthcare Auditor (CHA), Certified Internal Forensic Healthcare Auditor (CIFHA)Officer of Healthcare Compliance, Certified (OHCC), Certified Healthcare Collections Manager (CHCM), Certified HIPAA Compliance Officer (CHCO), Certified Outpatient Revenue Cycle Manager (CORCM).

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