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A comparison between commitment to QI and problem solving
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has three definitions of the word responsibility. Responsibility is defined as state of being responsible. This includes moral, legal and mental accountability. The other common definition is something for which one is responsible for. Both of these definitions have very different applications and influence human behavior in vast ways. While the first implies a state of being, an innate quality, the second is an external duty that is placed on a person. How well one takes up a responsibility is influenced to a large degree by their innate characteristics. So, even though institutions have visions and mission statements, how well those are put into practice and used as a guiding light will depend on the individuals themselves.
Leaders in any situation are usually called upon to take up some additional tasks. These tasks are usually in line with helping the institution achieve its goals. This is over and above what is normally required of every member who works for said institution. A set of guiding principle which are found the institution’s values usually inform the responsibilities imparted on each member. Leaders are called to be more than just partaker, but also to push those agendas forward and ensure they are achieved. There are multiple ways in which leaders can help build capacity in an institution. These include: being a provider of resources both technical and manual, giving instructions in areas they are experts to fellow coworkers, mentoring of juniors, facilitating meaningful discussions among the staff, supporting the institution’s activities, being a catalyst for change, helping fellow staff use the data they generate and always being eager to learn anything new in the field.
It is evident that while solving problems is one of the responsibilities of a leader, it is not the only one. Any leader who is committed to the improvement of services offered by the institution has to be willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. It has be an on-going process. These leaders have to be willing to re-evaluate often to improve. They have to be willing to face uncomfortable truths about themselves and the institution. This constant monitoring can lead to growth because what does not work will be discarded before it wastes time and resources. This is where it gets interesting though, because carrying out an institution’s vision is not the purview of leaders only. This can be taken up by any member. However the tendency is that whoever does this, quickly becomes a leader in his/her field. This is because they will stand out from the rest.
In my view, crisis resolution is only the tip of the quality improvement iceberg. There is a lot more to what goes into the work to capacity build a team of staffers with the aim of betterment. I think any good leader would be committed to the improvement of an institution and therefore perform tasks outside his mandate to see this happen. Looking at problem solving alone is a very narrow way of thing about an institution’s quality. This brings up the concern about personal motivation. The innate characteristic of feeling responsible for the achievement of success is not a trait found in everyone. Even among the leaders, there will be others who will still want to get by on the bare minimum. These are the kind that will not contribute to the vision. They see responsibility as a shackle, instead of being an opportunity to hone their skills and help the institution in one go.
In short, although the roles of problem solving and quality improvement overlap, there are significant differences in the responsibilities and in those who would undertake those tasks.
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