Chapter 1Drives for Results

On Monday, the 29th of October 2012, the city of Manhattan in New York lost electrical power from the disastrous consequences of a hurricane. With unceasing rain, the lower floors and elevator shafts of New York University's Langone Medical Center flooded. As the wind and rain shook the windows of the hospital, seven nurses who staffed the neonatal intensive care unit on the ninth floor of the hospital showed how a team can be driven for results.

Their results were not measured in profitability or common performance metrics, but in saving the delicate lives of 20 tiny babies. When the backup generators failed, the seven nurses with shared focus did what might have appeared impossible.

All of the infant ventilators and critically essential equipment stopped, triggering emergency alarms. The hospital was dangerously dark from the loss of power. The 4-hour battery backups for the babies in the intensive care unit activated, and the countdown began.

The nurses did three critical things: First, they accepted the responsibility and accountability for the life-or-death outcome. Second, they asked the right questions. Third, they decided on a rapid response.

Using the flashlight features on their cellphones, some of the nurses cast light on the isolettes while the others worked furiously to warmly wrap each baby. As they worked, the call came to evacuate the babies, beginning with those with the most severe risk of death.

One by one, each baby was removed ...

Get The Leadership Habit now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.