Could She Fix a Bullying Narcissist?: Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN

Could She Fix a Bullying Narcissist?: Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN

My guest for Episode #50 of “the My Favorite Mistake” podcast is Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN. She is a nurse executive and she is also the CEO of MFW Consultants to Professionals. Phyllis has a BSN in Nursing and a Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration.

She is the author of many books, including her latest, Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day. It's available through Amazon Kindle or as a paperback through her website.

In today's episode, Phyllis shares a story, and deeper lessons and reflections, about her favorite mistake — taking on a colleague's bullying behavior on her own, thinking she could fix that person. She didn't go to HR or the executive team until it was too late. Phyllis talks about two types of bad behavior in the workplace: 1) The chronically clueless and unaware and 2) “Narcissists with a license.” The former group you can help, the latter cannot be helped.

Phyllis shares lessons about what leaders can and should do about bullies in the workplace. What happens with a leader (or even the CEO) is a bully? How can we bring ‘shadow behavior’ into the light of day and prevent a toxic work environment? What are some mistakes that leaders make in dealing with bullies? How can we better train managers to deal with this?

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"I learned a very severe lesson from that experience [of trying to take on a bully without involving HR or leadership]. It's my favorite mistake because I've learned so very much from it."

"When it comes to bullies, who I usually define as 'narcissists with a license,' there is no turning that person around. There's no remediation." [You have to get them out the door.]

"[Bullies] have a very frail ego... It's all about me. They lack that gene of empathy. There's no way they can connect with the harm and damage they're doing, because they frankly don't care."

"When you have a [bullying] situation, you [have to] start documenting it so that you can have dates and times that talk about a pattern of behavior, not a rare moment, not somebody having a bad day, but a pattern of behavior."

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contain Mistakes)

Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 50 Phyllis Quinlan, nurse executive and consultant, author of Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (10s):
I learned the most from it, which probably qualifies it as my favorite.

Mark Graban (21s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at for show notes and a chance to win one of three signed copies of Phyllis's book. Go to, please subscribe, rate, and review.

Mark Graban (1m 3s):
And now on with the show. Everybody. Welcome to My Favorite Mistake. I'm Mark Graban, and we're joined today by Phyllis Quinlan. She is a consultant and a speaker and a professional coach. She is an author and she's the CEO of MFW Consulting Professionals. She has a BSN in nursing and a PhD in health care administration. And her book is titled Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day. So I know we'll be able to talk about the book and have a great conversation here today. Phyllis. Thanks for joining us. How are you?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (1m 38s):
I'm fine, Mark. Thanks for having me.

Mark Graban (1m 41s):
Yeah. Well, sure thing. Thinking to your work and career, Phyllis, what would you say is your favorite mistake?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (1m 52s):
So the, the mistake I learned the most from which probably qualifies it as my favorite mistake is the decision to take on a staff members, disruptive bullying behavior on my own feeling, very competent feeling, very confident that I was going to follow this rule. That real step-by-step didn't weave in human resources, didn't weave in administration until the situation got out of hand. And then I, I, you know, learned to a very, very severe lesson from that experience. It's my favorite mistake because from it I've learned so very much and hope to share with your listeners tonight.

Mark Graban (2m 38s):
Well, that certainly is what would qualify a mistake. I think, to be a favorite mistake. It's, it's all about the learning and the reflection. Maybe we can go back and, you know, I think there are probably some details from the scenario that, that you might be able to share with us. I mean, can you talk about like what some of that behavior was? How did you discover that this was a problem?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (3m 4s):
Yeah. So, you know, you know, one of the things that's really important when you are a leader and particularly important when you're a leader in healthcare, is that you try to create the healthiest work environment you possibly can. And the, the goal of all of that is to decrease the amount of distractions people have. So they can focus on what they're doing now for clinical people that might be a bedside procedure doing some wound care, perhaps medication administration, but it takes a lot as you can imagine in the 21st century to be a clinician. So when you have behavior that isn't over, it's shadow types of behavior that, you know, are, are in the realm of plausible deniability, but take the toll on the stamina and the wellbeing of the staff.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (3m 58s):
You, you have to address that, or you can have as many seamless procedures, policies, you know, methodologies as you want the foundation of a healthy work environment. I have come to find out is effectively assessing and managing disruptive behavior and making sure you have zero tolerance for anything other than that.

Mark Graban (4m 23s):
Yeah. And so when you say shadow behavior, this is, and we'll talk more about this. We'll talk about your book, but you know, in the case here, this is not overt name calling or bullying or throwing things at people. This was kind of just more, more, more passive, more subtle, more passive aggressive, or

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (4m 45s):
Yeah. In the case where, you know, I learned my lesson, you know, my favorite mistake, it was behavior that was reported to me as an, it had a pattern, you know, which, which is important to understand people, you know, it's not just episodic. Anybody can lose their stuff or be uncivil or have a bad day. Okay. And we're not talking about that. We're talking about a pattern of behavior that over time starts to suck the energy out of the department and out of the individual perhaps being targeted. And that was what was happening. There was one or two individuals that were being targeted. There was a pattern with this particular staff member of really going after our newer staff members on that unit.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (5m 30s):
And you know, like you're not going to have a real job until you get past me kind of thing. And it was never said overtly. And it was always said with the flare of, you know, plausible deniability, Oh, she misunderstood. He misunderstood. That's not what I meant. I was just trying to be, I meant it as a joke, they took it personally. They better toughen up or they're not gonna make it, you know, it was never the person, you know, being the bully responsibility. It was always, everybody else misunderstood me. I'm a victim.

Mark Graban (6m 7s):
Yeah. And so once that was reported to you and you were aware of it, I mean, thinking back, what do you think led to you trying to address it on your own as you, as you described?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (6m 20s):
So, you know, I, I try to have a style of, well, you know, most of what we disagree on are most of what our issues are probably can be solved over a cup of coffee. And that's what I first attempted. I sat down with this person and, you know, I said, can you we'll have a cup of coffee with me and let's just talk. And I just want to give you some feedback, growth and development type of, you know, feedback that, you know, I'm hearing this and you know, well, that's not what I intended. And I said, of course not, which is why we're talking. I want to raise your awareness that this particular pattern of behavior could lead people to see you in a light that you don't want to be seen in.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (7m 2s):
And that person then promise me, the sun is the moon. And the stars told me exactly what I wanted to hear. And I came away from that experience, thinking that I had done just in time intervention or just in time coaching. And it was a teachable moment. We both came away hopefully without a more solid relationship only to find out two days later that she reported me for harassment to human resources.

Mark Graban (7m 30s):
She went to HR before you did. Yes. Yes. That's interesting. Yes. This sounds like somebody who maybe knew how to play the system a little bit, or have been getting away with this for a while.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (7m 43s):
And, and you're going to find that, that, that happens that most bullies on the unit are not newbies. They are, you know, part and parcel of the fabric of the department. People know about it. You know, talk about it. This has been going on for a while. Everybody wink, wink, nod, nod, nod knows that this person's an issue. And, but nobody has either the wherewithal, the desire to take it on, or they're frightened. And you have, then fear-based leadership and everybody looks the other way. And, and of course, then that person feels empowered. They feel powerful and the, the behavior then escalates it doesn't get any better, but it was a, it was a, you know, rule number one for what I outlined in my book, never take a bully on by yourself.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (8m 38s):
When you have a situation, you start documenting it so that you can have dates and times that talk about a pattern of behavior, not a rare moment, not somebody having a bad day, but a pattern of behavior. And then you have a sit down with administration and human resources so that you can have a coordinated action plan on addressing this. And if you don't have everybody's, buy-in hopefully human resources and administration will say, you don't have something yet. We'll have to wait a little bit longer, try this, try that. And you do okay. But as you know, as time goes on, you'll find that, you know, all the declarations that I have mended my evil ways.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (9m 20s):
Thank you for investing in. I understand now I really enjoyed that training. You know, all of those things are just a matter of placating you so that you will look the other way. And then at some point in time, that behavior will rear its ugly head again. But this time everybody's been read in. So again, please never try to address bullying behavior on your own. You must have the coordination of administration and human resources in order to have an action plan that will not just address the issue, but keep you safe while you are doing your job.

Mark Graban (9m 58s):
Yeah. So in that scenario, you described an approach to me, it sounded like you were trying to be, you know, a coach that you were giving that bully, maybe the benefit of the doubt and like here, let me help you be aware. You know, like it's not a very nice word on my part, but clueless, they might've been clueless. Right. Versus like, how often do you think that that uncivil bullying behavior is something more malignant or malicious?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (10m 32s):
Yeah. So I'm glad you brought that up Mark, because the, the incidents of bullying behavior, not just, there's, there's actually two types of disruptive behavior, chronic incivility. We can talk about that, but to get to your question, actual bullying, behavior, bullying, behavior, being defined as behavior, that's abusive behavior, that's targeting an individual, undermining their confidence, belittling them where it is so pervasive that the person, you know, no longer wants to come to work or they start to have some somatic complaints around the stress of having to work with this individual.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (11m 12s):
And you would, you know, the, the, the paradox is, is that you would think that in a caring profession, such as healthcare, that this wouldn't happen, we're all professional caregivers. When in fact it is pervasive and not to the point where it's 50%, but from the, from speaking across the country to nurse executives, we're pretty much in agreement that about 5% of our staff indulges in what we would call that type of bullying behavior, kind of like the analogy of why do you Rob banks? Because that's where the money is. The pieces is, you know, if you have a personality that needs to be condoned, or somebody needs to care for you, nurture, you invest in, you want you to do better.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (12m 2s):
And you're playing that caring personality, like a fiddle, because all you're doing is telling that caring person what they want to hear. They feel as though they have done their job of caring and being a good transformational leader. So well, and then they just go right ahead and continue doing that. And what you've done is actually pushed the finish line further, the odd thing here, and probably the most destructive thing to leadership Mark is that the there's 85% of the staff that's actually ready, willing, and able to show up and do world-class care and act in a collegial manner.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (12m 43s):
And they're standing there watching leadership gets sucked in here. And they're thinking, what part of this don't you understand this person is a problem. And yet you want to believe, otherwise you want to believe that you have the magic ingredient to turn this person around. But when it comes to bullies, who I usually define as narcissist with a license, there is no turning around. There's no remediation. The action plan is getting them to the door that might take a while it might take a year or two, depending on how long that person has been with the organization. But there is no turning that person around.

Mark Graban (13m 25s):
Yeah. When I think, so you want me to describe this as pervasive? You know, I've done consulting work with hospitals across the United States for 15 years, and this issue does come up a lot. When we talk about we're working with leaders and trying to create a more respectful workplace, the stories of the bullying, unfortunately come out. Some of it seems to be professional hierarchy within silos, older physicians toward the residents or the younger physicians, older nurses toward the newcomers. I mean, I'm sure you've heard this phrase of, of nurses eat their young.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (14m 4s):
Oh yes. I'm trying to stamp that out. Yes. I've heard it. Yeah.

Mark Graban (14m 7s):
Yeah, no. And I appreciate that you're working on that, not to make and, and not to make excuses for anybody, but trying to think of why some of this happens. I mean, I wonder how much of this flows through oftentimes physicians might bully nurses or other professionals in the workplace. And then I wonder at some point when, you know, someone's been harmed in the workplace that it sort of gets passed along. If a senior nurse gets bullied by a physician that senior nurse thinks, well, I can bully a junior nurse or I can bully a tech again, not to make excuses for it, but just trying to think of how systemic some of this.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (14m 44s):
Right. I understand the point you're trying to make. And, and my experience and my, my, my speaking with nurse executives and other executives around the country proves that, you know, it brings up a different point. The person being targeted, doesn't go on to target. Okay. That, that, that, that doesn't happen. We have to understand that again, bullying narcissism with a license, okay. Is all about power. All right. You have a very frail ego that needs to make sure that everything leads to this person. It's all about me. It's all about me. They lack that gene of empathy. There's no way they can connect with the harm and damage that they're doing, because they frankly don't care.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (15m 29s):
The, the, if it's, so if it's about power, you, you bring up the incident of the, of the physician. And I can say that, you know, physicians and surgeons are the financial engines of the hospital and they bring in money. And they're not only in that hierarchy, but there's a financial piece of what do we do with Dr. Jones when Dr. Jones brings in X amount of dollars a year, and we need Dr. Jones, which means then the message is usually everybody needs to do whatever they need to do to placate Dr. Jones so that he can keep bringing his patients here. You know, that might work from the financial end, but I had worked with organizations and have said to them, you know, I want you to take a different look at this.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (16m 16s):
I want you to take a look at, maybe do a spreadsheet. If Dr. Jones brings in, let's say $5 million a year, and you have a turnover rate, let's say, he's a surgeon. So you have a turnover rate of your peri-operative team. And you, you can't, you know, hire a perioperative nurse with a $10,000 bill and a gun. You know, then what did, how much has Dr. Jones actually costing you? So when you do that analysis of how much they keep saying, he generates this amount of income, but he costs this much to keep, it's a very different situation. And of course we do have human resource laws that are supposed to guarantees, you know, zero tolerance.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (16m 58s):
And that can bring a boatload of lawsuits down the pike now that people are taking very seriously. Yeah.

Mark Graban (17m 6s):
Well, and I appreciate that stance on zero tolerance. And I have heard stories of organizations biting the bullet and saying, you know what, it's costing us too much. And it's the right thing to do. And they decided to not tolerate that behavior anymore. But then that surgeon might find a home someplace else where they're going to bring money and misery, maybe

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (17m 27s):
I'm sure they will for a period of time. And of course that whole other scenario, it'll rear its ugly head again. But you know, to your point of, you know, how does this story? Well, the children who bullied in grammar school went to high school and bullied, and then they went to college and bullied and then they graduated and went into the workplace and that behavior keeps going. So this is not, you know, again, it's not the piece of the person being targeted that then targets this. This is a group of individuals that have a personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder that is destructive in the workplace. And that truly needs to be, I believe it is a leadership imperative to be able to assess it, to know that you're dealing with a bully versus someone who's chronically uncivil.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (18m 14s):
And then to be able to craft a plan with administration and human resources that effectively manages this problem to the door. Because again, with bullying, there is no remediation. You're not turning this person around. Yeah.

Mark Graban (18m 31s):
Yeah. They, they need, they need some sort of help. And that help is likely not going to come from HR or their manager is what you're saying.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (18m 40s):
So I, I'm not going to say they don't need help. But the first step in, in helping someone is they have to identify that there's a problem and own it. And a narcissist is incapable of that. Wow. What

Mark Graban (18m 53s):
Happens or what would your advice be when it's a senior leader who is a bully, I'm not going to go anywhere near naming names or States here. But I worked at a client once a health system where people use the word bully, referring to the chief executive officer. And there were stories and I was never directly witness to it, but it was believable. And that seemed to really create a toxic environment that enabled. And, you know, it's just such a bad example. What would your advice be if like, if you're talking to a nurse executive who said, you know, boy, our CEO is a bullet.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (19m 35s):
So, so you, you would have to keep very good anecdotal notes of dates and times, because what you're trying to do again is establish a pattern of behavior. That's not just targeted at you, but targeted at others. Maybe this person is disruptive towards other senior execs in the organization. Maybe they were intolerant of a family complaint, but you, you would have to try to keep some anecdotal notes for yourself, but you'd also have to have a moment with yourself that understanding the, your, having some organizational awareness, if this person is extremely powerful and visible, you have to understand that everybody knows that this person's a bully.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (20m 21s):
And at some point the, the service that they offer the organization outweighs anybody caring about the behavior. And I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but it's real. And you need to be able then to either say the serenity prayer and, and decide you're going to stay and just put up with it, or you're going to advocate for yourself and say, I deserve better and move on. But if you honestly believe that you are going to change someone, who's already entrenched in the culture of an organization and is visible and in a leadership position, you, you're kind of like Don Quixote taking on windmills and you, you could destroy your career in the process.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (21m 5s):
And I, I really would encourage people to give that some very long deliberate thought before you did.

Mark Graban (21m 12s):
Yeah. Yeah. So, well, I mean, th th th and the consequences, I mean, I pause because the consequences of a lot of this behavior and the culture that, that leads to in healthcare, I think could arguably be tied to the quality of care and, and even patient safety. I mean, this, there, there are really high stakes

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (21m 36s):
That's right. And, and the accrediting or the oversight bodies, you know, like the, the joint commission, which is, you know, one of the highest accrediting bodies of quality in a healthcare organization came out in 2016 with a white paper talking about disruptive behavior. And it was, it was a very strongly worded paper, white paper, because when, when the joint commission was trying to address what we call Sentinel events, okay. So these were mistakes with consequences to the patient, not just a near miss, but a definite consequence to the patient that started around 2000 and they drank commission, asked a lot of healthcare leaders will, what is it all about?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (22m 19s):
And a lot of those people said, well, it's about communication. We're a diverse population. We have various levels of education. We need to be able to streamline the way we communicate. So we, we did just that. We looked at the nuclear injure industry. We looked at the military, we brought in different ways to be able to communicate or report events. There was something called team steps that came up that were supposed to help us explain that we were concerned about possible change in the patient's status. And it was supposed to have key words in there that caught your attention. And then over 10 or 12 years, the Sentinel events didn't change.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (23m 0s):
And when the joint commission took another look at that, what they realized was it wasn't that people weren't ready, able to communicate accurately, their concern it's that there wasn't an environment where they felt safe in reporting back concern. So that's when they started to turn their attention towards disruptive behavior as really being the etiology of a lot of distraction that then causes errors, which do farm, right?

Mark Graban (23m 30s):
And, and that, that phrase, psychological safety is an important one. Are you familiar with the work of professor Amy Edmondson from Harvard? She is, she's written a lot about psychological safety and she was involved in studies in healthcare. All I'll shoot you some links to her work on, on that. And I'm, I'm hoping I've interviewed her in a different podcast. I'm hoping to bring her onto this series and, and talk about, you know, this idea of learning from mistakes and doing so requires that we, and I think this is where the title of your book resonates with me bringing shadow behavior into the light of day, whether that behavior is in the shadows or whether there are safety or quality risks that are in the shadows.

Mark Graban (24m 17s):
If we don't make it psychologically safe for people to speak up, we can't, we can't do anything about it. So I was wondering if you could elaborate on what leaders can do to make it safe, not just say you need to bring this behavior to light in a way that might be risky.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (24m 33s):
So I think the number one thing that leaders can do is really be visible. All right, that, you know, the, the whole idea of leading from behind your desk has come and gone. And we, we learned this even through the pandemic, the staff that's, so are leaders the most often was the staff that had the greatest sense of backing, and it really helped their resilience so that the staff needs to see you. The staff needs to know that you're concerned. You have to take a look at your staff here. When you do rounding, you're not just going to meet and greet your patients and perhaps their families, but you want to ask your staff, how's it going? You know, what's going on and so on.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (25m 13s):
And you're going to start to notice a little bit of a pattern. You know, you want it, you want to take a look at, sit with your departmental leaders, look at time and attendance, and look at the fundamentals. So, as I shared with you before, there's two types of disruptive behavior. So somebody who's chronically uncivil is that person who can never get to work on time. You know, they can't get back from break on time. They can never do their work independently. There's always an excuse. And then of course, when you're trying to collect your thoughts and have a cup of coffee while they want to do is talk about their personal life. They're just, and they have low emotional intelligence, and they don't realize that it is work and effort to be around them in the workplace, but they are not trying to cause harm to you.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (25m 59s):
They're not trying to target you, belittle you, abuse you or make you feel less capable and competent. They're just have no awareness and insight. You, you really have to work with those souls and make sure that they understand that that's just unacceptable because the amount of attention and wear and tear that takes on the staff is incredible. And again, these behaviors have patterns to them, and it's always something. And, you know, you want to get in there early, and especially with your new hires, you know, there's usually a probationary period and it might be three months. I'm an advocate for the six month probationary period.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (26m 40s):
Because, you know, even when you're dating, everybody can be good for three months, six months usually tells you if you've got a winner or not. You know? So you want to, you want to date your employee for six months and not three months before you decide to take the next step. We, with the bullying behavior though, one of the key assessment findings I have for this narcissist with a license it's this bullying is that they, they are so enthralled with themselves and they feel that they're so very, very special that they, they demand special accommodations. They will talk about their seniority a lot. They will talk about what they do. They will talk about, you know, you can't orient somebody.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (27m 22s):
If it's, if I don't orient them, you know, if I don't say they're good enough, they're not good enough. And you might think that's a joke, but it's not. They're trying to tell you something. They will also leap frog authority. And that is the number one. I believe homework sign of a bully is that you'll have a staff person and you'll have a middle manager. And their view of the middle manager is, well, you can't be any good because you're just a middle manager, you know? So they leapfrog the middle manager and either go to the director or the administrator, and they're notorious for that. And you can restate structure all you want, but they honestly believe that they're so special that the only person you can understand what they're saying is someone in power who is special too.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (28m 10s):
So if you've got someone like that, you probably have a bully. You probably have a bully who could care less if they hurt your feelings, you know, leapfrog broke protocol. It's all about them and how it serves them.

Mark Graban (28m 26s):
Yeah. And so, Phyllis, you know, you told your story about being a leader and now you're, you know, through your book and through your consulting and coaching, you're trying to help other leaders. You know, I like in the description of the book and what you do, you know, you're not blaming people for being bad managers, you're pointing out maybe a lack of training or lack of development. So if you could share it,

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (28m 50s):
You're just a professional caregiver and you, you care a lot, you know? So the, the pieces is, no, this is not about a bad manager. And this is certainly not about a dysfunctional leadership structure. What this is, is really understanding what you're looking at. So quite honestly, for all the education we have as healthcare providers, except for our sainted colleagues in behavioral health, we get very little training on behavior. And, you know, if even in an emergency department, which is my clinical specialty, if I was to say to someone, do you want three gunshot wounds? Or do you want someone who's emotionally disturbed or having a, an anxiety attack?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (29m 32s):
Most nurses will go for the gunshot wounds because we're not really good at managing a parent behavior or disruptive behavior people back away from. So what we need to do is really bring up our knowledge base about what we're dealing with. Once you understand that a bully is a narcissist and you start to make yourself more aware, which is what I did along the way is train myself and, and really become astute in how narcissists think and therefore act well, then you it's like understanding a disease. You're getting ahead of it. Now, you know how to plan for it. You know how to anticipate, you know, what works and you know what doesn't so that you not only assess better, you assess and then intervene earlier and you put your plan in place that's airtight.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (30m 22s):
So that once you get this person to the door, it stands up against arbitration.

Mark Graban (30m 27s):
Yeah. Wow. So with the book, and again, our guest is Phyllis Quinlan, she's a nurse. She has a PhD in healthcare administration, and the book is titled Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day. Do you think there's or have you seen, is there a broader audience for the book beyond healthcare leaders?

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (30m 46s):
Unfortunately, yes. You know, bullies exist in every work venue. I'm, I'm hard pressed to think of a place that bullying doesn't exist. So I think now, especially as we're coming out of this pandemic and we're restructuring, and everybody's trying to figure out what the workplace is going to look like. I think that we really have to lean into trying to create the healthiest workplace that we possibly can. And of course that means you want to focus on communication and collaboration, making sure you recognize your people appropriately you, but if you are just focused on that environmental, how things operationalize, you're going to miss a big piece because making sure that disruptive behavior isn't pervasive on your department and Mark, I just want to make a point. he action plan is getting them to the doorAnd, you know, so it, you know, you really want to stay on top of that.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (31m 57s):
And the, the, the, the, the 85% of the staff, that's really waiting for leadership to take charge and do something is, you know, kind of like the silent majority. And then it's amazing once you take care of one thing and really get that person out, the energy in your department will be so refreshed. It's kind of like, you know, like, you know, you know, the end of the war, you know what I mean, peace at last.

Mark Graban (32m 31s):
And really

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (32m 33s):
The engagement scores go up. It's staff interacts better with, with patients and or customers, depending on what your, you know, your, your business is. But boy, the time and effort it takes to do the right thing, to make sure that you have zero tolerance for disruptive behavior. And it's not just a piece of paper, but actually an action plan will pay off and staff engagement and all of your other quality metrics going up. It's truly worth the effort. Yeah.

Mark Graban (33m 5s):
Well, thank you for your efforts and thank you for what you're doing to help others. I mean, it really makes a big difference. So Phyllis' website. If you want to learn more about her work is Again, the book is Bringing Shadow Behavior into the Light of Day, and I'll put those links into the show notes. So Phyllis, thank you for sharing some of your reflections as, as a leader of how you learned and grew and developed. And, and, and thankfully, you know, you, as you said, a favorite mistake is something that you learned from, and it sounds like in this case, it was a real springboard for you to, to go and help others.

Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN (33m 47s):
Thank you, Mark. Thank you for giving me this forum to help, try to raise awareness and make sure that, you know, the, the real frontline caregivers can do their jobs seamlessly and with peace of mind, because they're all looking to really give world-class patient care.

Mark Graban (34m 3s):
Yeah. And thank you for everything you do to help get some of those, you know, barriers out of the way. So people can really do that. That's what they want to do. That's one thing I love about health care is you have so many amazing people and, you know, we need to make sure that they're set up for success instead of being dragged down. That's really important. So thank you so much, Phyllis, for being a guest here today. Really interesting. My pleasure. Well, again, I want to thank Phyllis Quinlan for being such a great guest today. If you would like to enter to win one of three free signed copies of her latest book, you can do that. You can find show notes and links at

Mark Graban (34m 43s):
UPcoming guests. On the episode next week, we will have Lenny Walls, a former NFL football player, and we will have a TV, financial commentator and book author, Heather Zumarraga. So I hope you will subscribe if this is your first time listening, hope you look forward to future episodes. A lot of great content from different guests coming here on my favorite mistake. Thanks for subscribing if you've already done. So please rate and review us if you have the chance on your favorite app of choice. And I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me they've started being more open and honest about mistakes and their work.

Mark Graban (35m 34s):
And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak about problems, cause that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me And again, our website is

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.