Our Radiologist-in-Chief Dr. George Bisset told me something recently that got me thinking. A few weeks ago, Dr. Bisset requested a product demonstration from a vendor. The vendor representative offered to provide the demo over Webex, but Dr. Bisset insisted on a face-to-face presentation. He felt the meeting and the product’s potential impact was important enough that it should be held in person so his team could get a real sense of the product’s use and value.
The representative agreed, and Dr. Bisset scheduled a meeting for the vendor to meet with 15 key stakeholders. Within minutes of starting the meeting, more than half of the attendees were on their phones. And they remained on their phones for most of the presentation. Aside from being an embarrassing display for the organization, the lack of attention to the presenter conveyed that his presence was neither warranted nor appreciated or that some were too busy to give the presenter the attention he deserved.
How many times have you been on the receiving end of this scenario? Or, let’s be honest, are you often the person holding the phone? This is not who we are as an organization, and this is not how we want to represent ourselves or be perceived by others. Our lack of attention shows a lack of consideration for the people we are around. As individuals, spouses, parents and friends, it is important for us, personally, to be engaged in the moments with the people who are important to us. This is important professionally as well, and it speaks to our culture at Texas Children’s.
As Dr. Bisset and I were discussing how the attention to mobile phones has become almost obsessive, he shared this video with me in which the presenter speaks to how this is impacting us – and worse, our children and grandchildren – and the dramatic differences he sees when mobile phones are removed from use in a meeting or other environments.
I shared the video with our leadership team, and received some very interesting feedback. One remark that really struck a chord with the team was when our CFO Weldon Gage quoted Ronald Heifetz, Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, “Attention is the currency of leadership.” What a powerful thought. Great leaders optimize how they spend their attention. They are skilled at getting others to focus their attention on the right things at the right times.
So I’m challenging you, whether it is with your families or colleagues, to examine how you can make some meaningful changes. Watch the video, and let’s make a commitment to change our habits. Let’s make the effort to really be present in our conversations, activities and meetings. Although we at Texas Children’s are getting better every day, this is an opportunity for us to be a more respectful, fully engaged culture, and that’s worth putting the phone down.