Mastering Situational Awareness In A Leadership Role


situational awareness clock level

Situational awareness has become popular and crucial in the healthcare industry, as medical professionals begin to understand and apply the concept to patient care and risk mitigation.

There are daily (and oftentimes continuous) challenges in a team matrix environment that may impact delivery of patient care. New technologies in the workspace, specialist consults, changing policies, and balancing patient preferences with clinical decisions are just a few to list. If you came across this article, it may be because you are ready and interested in a change either within you, your teams, or both.

But what exactly is situational awareness? How can you master and apply it to patient care outcomes?

After we explore this topic, you will:

  • Discover the three levels of situational awareness
  • Understand how to apply situational awareness to your daily decision-making
  • Learn how Elev8 can help to improve your leadership habit building through executive coaching


What is Situational Awareness?


Situational awareness is a term that originated within military operations. In simplest terms, situational awareness is understanding every element within a given environment and acknowledging the implications of what is taking place – past, present, and future.

There are major benefits in applying this concept to healthcare operations.

Situational awareness prepares you before taking action. Gathering information, and visualizing the outcomes before they happen are critical to decision-making.

Within controlled environments, errors can be a learning tool. In healthcare and other high-stakes industries, errors can have significant impacts. Situational awareness leads to risk mitigation by lowering unintended impact and overall quality improvement.

Mastering situational awareness allows leaders to quickly identify important multidisciplinary touchpoints, better patient experiences, and mitigation of unforeseen issues.


What are the Three Levels of Situational Awareness?


There are three levels of situational awareness as identified by MR Endsley, a former Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force.

1. Perception

The first step of situational awareness is an individual’s perception of available information.

First, you must have access to the information, then you must be able to recognize that the information is relevant.

For example, when a patient undergoes any treatment, a doctor must have access to all their relevant medical history, run diagnostics and review notes from clinical staff members to recognize which information is relevant to the procedure.

As healthcare leaders, all information may not be available, but a daily practice of relevant information processing is key to critical decision making and risk mitigation.

2. Understanding

The second level of situational awareness is understanding the information given to you.

With the relevant situational information obtained, the knowledge and skillset to apply the information is important.

As a leader, keeping your skills and knowledge sharp is key to this second level for comprehension. Continuous learning will benefit you, the staff, and patients in the short and long run.

3. Predicting

The final step to achieve situational awareness is predicting, or visualizing the possible outcomes of a desired course of action.

Once the two prior levels are applied, a leader needs to make predictions and be open to altering their plans if necessary. Bottom line, a leader must be agile in this third level to achieve the best possible outcome.


Why is Situational Awareness Important Within a Leadership Role in Healthcare?


Leadership roles, particularly within the healthcare sector, involve making high-stakes decisions in a fast-paced environment that can have major repercussions across various levels.

Mastering situational awareness, therefore, is essential to higher quality of patient care. In order to produce the best possible outcomes that meet various targets and circumstances, healthcare leaders must recognize, understand, and build capacity on all relevant levels relating to their environment.


Final Thoughts


Elev8’s executive leadership coaching services incorporate a strong emphasis on mastering situational awareness. We help you master the art of situational awareness through alignment with your personal style and demands of your role.

Elev8 leverages the most innovative and personalized executive coaching strategies to help you respond to life changing situations for your team and patients. Schedule a free strategy consultation with Founder and CEO, Saran Traore today.

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