Good is not Good Enough: The Culture of Low Expectations and the Leader's Challenge

Karlene M. Kerfoot, PhD, RN, CNAA, FAAN,


Pediatr Nurs. 2010;36(4):216-217. 

In This Article

Passion: Antidote to the Culture of Low Expectations

A leader can not be successful unless the culture of low expectations is eliminated. The leader cannot fall into the trap of "we've always done it this way" and instead must offset that with a drive and passion for superior outcomes. If there isn't a sense of caring, serving, and being an exemplar of the change, the leader won't succeed in moving the culture.

Baldoni (2003) defines passion as the conviction that you care. To care, you must feel passionately about the mission, and the purpose of the organization. The leader's challenge is to help everyone see the connection between the everyday work and how that connects with the mission and the opportunity to do significant work for someone else. In health care, there are many passionate and personalized stories that can ignite that caring spirit within everyone. Stories combined with information about the outcomes and how the work fits into the broader vision will link everyone to the organization's mission. Studer (2008) differentiates employees as renters or owners. Owners are intimately involved with the process and outcomes of the organization because they truly care. Renters instead see themselves as transient, uncommitted, and always ready to leave with very short notice because they feel no ownership of the values and mission of the organization. In cultures of low expectations, you usually see many renters and very few people who are committed. Consequently there is frequent turnover, and lack of commitment to improvements in the future. The leader's challenge is to create the culture of magnetism so that all will feel a sense of long-term comment and alignment with the organization, which will lead to a sense of ownership as true stakeholders. When there is a sense of ownership and commitment to the mission and to patients, the culture of low expectations cannot exist.


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