Hayley Boling, MBA, COE, Wins 2018 APEX Award for Excellence in Magazine Writing

Hayley Boling, MBA, COE, Wins 2018 APEX Award for Excellence in Magazine Writing

ASOA member and AE contributor Hayley Boling, MBA, COE, won a 2018 APEX Award for Excellence in Magazine Writing for her article "Passing the Baton—The Art of Effective Delegation," which was published in the 2017 Nov/Dec issue of AE. The award was given as part of the annual, national "APEX Awards for Publishing Excellence" competition sponsored by Communication Concepts, Inc. (Alexandria, VA) for publishers, editors, writers, and designers who create print, Web, electronic, and social media. There were more than 1400 entries in this year’s competition.

Here, Boling, CEO of Boling Vision Center/INSIGHT Surgery Center (Northern Indiana), talks with AE about her work and her writing process.

AE: Your article was written with a creative twist—as an advice column. What inspired you to use that format for your article?

HB: I wanted to address questions and concerns I’ve received from other administrators while serving as a presenter/panelist, author, ASOA Board member, committee member, and taskforce chair. My ultimate goal was to let them know they are not alone in their journeys to be the most effective ophthalmic leaders they can be! So often, due to the competitive, local landscapes we practice in, administrators have limited opportunities to ask about these types of pressing issues, [which leaves them] feeling isolated. I thought the advice column format would serve as an open, neutral, and non-threatening approach to answering questions that so many of us have (or have had) throughout our careers.

AE: You used an elegant metaphor to frame the article: equating delegation to passing the baton in a relay race. At what point in the article-writing process did that image come to you?

HB: My college track experience was actually the very first thought I had when I started brainstorming for this article. I formed the remainder of the content around this imagery; it was such a powerful experience that I continue to draw upon it in my professional life to this day. My hope is that this experience has helped others learn to pass the baton in their practices as well!

AE: In the article you gently poke fun at your own perfectionism, which makes the “advice” fun to read (and easier to hear). How’d you learn not to take yourself too seriously?

HB: This is a great question … If I had to think of one experience, I’d say it was during my senior year of high school when I was Team Captain for our state-bound volleyball team. My coach took me aside early in the season and shared her wisdom about team culture with me. Coach told me that every team’s culture and overall “personality” would be different since it’s heavily based on the team leader. She then asked what kind of team culture I wanted our team to have, and I responded that we always played better together when we were having fun playing together. We worked hard … and we played hard. We also laughed hard, and we enjoyed finding opportunities to insert fun and laughter into our daily routines that were so often focused on achieving excellence. As a result, our team culture that year was a “work hard, play hard” culture. Not only did we have fun … we also ended up making it to the Final 4 and finishing third in the state that year!

As you can imagine, this experience made a huge impact on me, because it was a defining moment in my life when I learned that FUN and LAUGHTER could live in harmony with EXCELLENCE and SUCCESS! Since then, I’ve always included a light side to my leadership style, which carried over into my writing. People learn more (because they are willing to listen/read more) when they are enjoying the delivery as well as the content. In essence, my goal is to speak and write in a way that others WANT to listen and/or read what I have to say … and humor and analogies often help!

Finally, I’ve always had a silly side (I mean, have you ever seen me present on my team’s unique practice culture?!?), which is why I have just never taken myself too seriously. Life is just too short to be so serious all the time! This is why I regularly remind other leaders that it’s okay for your team to see that you’re human. Time is precious, so be sure to have fun (and encourage others to have some fun, too) in the process.

AE: You write that “Delegation is a direct investment in the development of the talent that surrounds you!”—but that it will mean teaching someone to do the task that you delegate. How do you create the time to make that investment?

HB: For me, it’s about being intentional in everything that I do.

Part of being intentional has to do with the timing and delivery of the delegation, which has EVERYTHING to do with the person that I’m planning on delegating to. This is where my commitment to situational leadership comes into play. Depending on the person’s learning style, as well as their current level of development/understanding/expertise, I will then determine how much time I need to set aside to invest, as well as HOW I plan to teach the person. Once I determine that, , then I commit to investing in them by intentionally scheduling the time in my calendar.

I mark myself as “unavailable” for calls, etc., to ensure that I’m spending the appropriate time and giving the process my fullest attention, which is my way of intentionally setting the individual up for success in their new responsibility. And if my schedule changes, we reschedule. After all, not being SUPER intentional about this delegation process will only hurt me (and my never-ending to-do list) in the future by further bogging down my schedule with tasks that could be in the hands of my very capable team.

AE: Your article won an award, and other ASOA members have said they’ve enjoyed reading your columns. Are there practice management topics you’ll be exploring in the near future that we can look forward to reading about?

HB:  I’m sure my list of topics will grow and evolve since my favorite articles I’ve written so far are in response to questions that I’ve received, and discussions I’ve had, with the talent from within our own industry!

Additionally, I really enjoy writing about the things I’ve learned as I’ve matured as an ophthalmic leader, so I’m sure my topics will continue to develop as I continue to develop.

In the near future, though, I’d love to address the topic of feedback―for all members of our practices (yes … including our docs!) as well as practice culture, cultivating talent, and having fun while getting things done!