Learning how to be an effective leader

GVL / Andrew Schertzer

GVL / Andrew Schertzer

Drew Schertzer

People tend to think that good leaders are workers who excel at their jobs. While this often holds true, Derk Pronger challenges this everyday notion. As the COO for Munson Medical Center, Pronger is always looking for new methods to help leaders in the medical field improve their leadership skills. 

Pronger spoke to an audience of about 20 at Grand Valley State University’s DeVos Center Tuesday, Nov. 7. The Healthcare Professionals Graduate Student Alliance (HPGSA) put on the event for networking opportunities for their graduate students in health care. The presentation by Pronger lasted about an hour and was followed by a short Q&A segment. 

Pronger listed a few key elements needed for leadership improvement under a category called emotional quotient (EQ). 

“EQ helps you change more effectively and to share goals better,” Pronger said. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What do I need to work on?’”

Pronger stressed the importance of having the correct focus when working. To be a good leader, he said, individuals need focus on the things that they can influence. 

“I can’t focus on what happens in Washington or Lansing since I can’t control what they do,” Pronger said. “I can focus on creating an environment where caregivers can work together as a team. I can remove anything hindering them or any roadblocks, so I focus on that instead.” 

Pronger urged listeners to understand the power of emotions. He said incidents can happen—like a work member bringing up a hot-button issue—that can create a lot of stress, which can lead to less productivity and less willingness to communicate with others. Self-awareness relates to your emotions, moods and what drives you, Pronger said. He told attendees to avoid conversations where it is a villain-victim scenario. This typically is when you feel angry or feel attacked after speaking with a work member. Pronger said one way to avoid this is to constantly ask for feedback from people you know and respect. He said everyone has weaknesses that they need to be honest with themselves about. 

Another way Pronger suggested using EQ is to have self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses. People will often say things in an inappropriate manner to throw other people off, and when people aren’t respectful, you have to control your emotions through using your self-regulation, Pronger said. 

Throughout the talk, Pronger mentioned empathy. He showed a short video that displayed many random people walking throughout a hospital. The video explained that each person is going through personal trials such as surgeries, deaths of loved ones and other tough situations. Pronger pointed out several parts of the video during his presentation. He said to be a great leader, you have to have empathy for other people and what they are going through.  

“I feel that emotional intelligence is a value and its importance is often overlooked,” said Daniel Muzyka, a graduate student. “I was glad to see some of the examples of what he (Pronger) recommends to be a better leader in certain situations.”