Good leadership advice is meant to be shared. Here eight healthcare leaders — including CEOs, CFOs and chief strategy officers — offer the No. 1 piece of advice they would give other leaders in their field.
1. Rob Bloom, CFO of Carthage (N.Y.) Area Hospital. “The best advice I have is to find the courage to change what must be changed and accept those things that cannot be changed in the short term. Regardless of whether a hospital is profitable or struggling, there will be challenges. The difficult task is to determine where to focus resources while accepting criticism for problems that will not change the short-term viability of the organization. You have to learn to trust your judgment and resist pressures from others that might tempt you to alter your course based on their lack of understanding. It is very much a triage process: Stop the bleeding first, then worry about infection later.”
2. Mona Chadha, chief strategy officer of San Francisco-based Dignity Health’s Bay Area. “One of the key strengths of being a good leader is really listening and leading people by example. That to me is one of the successes. Then, do some thinking outside of the box. That’s been my mantra of success in the past.”
3. JoAnn Kunkel, CFO of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health. “The very first CFO I worked for in 1990 always said, ‘you’re only as good as your team. … I’d never be able to be successful without having you and the team working with me.’ [That CFO] was a very thoughtful and inclusive leader. He gave me opportunities to be part of the team and think strategically and develop into a leader. So since then, it’s always been my belief that we have a very strong team that should always participate. If we have someone that needs help, we have multiple individuals ready to step up. And working together makes us all better. My advice would be: It’s important to remember you are only as good as your team. Sometimes I think when you get into these leadership roles you can forget that. You always want to be inclusive, give credit to the work and the team and the efforts that help make you successful in your role.”
4. Michael McAnder, CFO of Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare. “I think what I’d say is try and look for the long-term play. You can’t manage this business on a day-to-day basis. You have to have a clear direction and stick with it. I think that’s probably the thing our CEO Kevin Brown has done really well. I have never worked at an organization with a one-page strategic plan before. Every meeting starts with it, and we use it at every presentation. That consistency has brought clarity. It’s also why we’ve gone from five hospitals to 11 in the three years I’ve been here. That resonates with other organizations when we talk about our plan. It’s really important. In addition, obviously, you have to act with integrity and character. If you’re in a position where you can’t do that, you have to make a different decision about whether you can keep working for someone.”
5. Alan B. Miller, CEO of King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services. “I often give a few pieces of advice to other CEOs and leaders, including:
6. David Parsons, MD, CMO of Portland-based Northwest Permanente. “Listen to the people you lead and be honest about which problems you can solve and which ones you can’t. People usually don’t mind being told no as long as you are direct and honest about the reasons why. People detest ambivalence.”
7. Mike Pykosz, CEO and founder of Chicago-based Oak Street Health. “Be persistent and be motivated by your mission. One thing we found really early was everything is a lot harder and takes a lot longer than you think it will. Things that make a lot of sense to you and are super logical will always take a little longer. [Success] requires breaking down a lot of little barriers, including a lot of inefficiencies, a lot of complexities and mindshare. But whatever it is, be persistent and have faith that if you’re trying to do the right thing, and if you stay at it, you’ll be able to break down those barriers and accomplish these things.”
8. Michael Wallace, president and CEO of Fort Atkinson, Wis.-based Fort HealthCare. “I’d say visualize the outcome you want and then go get it. I also like the phrase ‘try hard, fail fast, move on, start over.’ You’re one step closer to a solution if the last one didn’t work. But don’t let perfect get in the way of good. I like to be 8 for 10 rather than 3 for 3. Failure is the byproduct of trying to move an organization forward. If I get 8 of 10 things right, I am going to end up further along, closer to my vision than if I wait to be sure about everything to get that perfect 3 for 3.”
The opportunity and ability to step into a tipping point makes us feel responsible, powerful, and apprehensive.
Every decision both responds to and creates a tipping point.
The pursuit of ease makes you matter less.
Ease in small doses expands capacity, but in large doses destroys us.
Please know that I’m not encouraging workaholism. However, making a difference requires getting your hands dirty.
Every decision contributes to trajectory.
The consequence of decisions is real direction, not intended direction. You’re always heading somewhere.
Long-term or short-term:
The appeal of short-term perspectives is immediate gratification, sometimes at the expense of long-term value.
Crisis requires short-term perspective. Put the fire out! But constant “crisis mode” sacrifices the future on the altar of urgency.
Life is relationships, nothing more, nothing less.
Tipping points include opportunities to both receive and give value.
5 general questions:
What questions might leaders ask when facing tipping points?
It might hurt, but look in the mirror if people around you are low energy slugs.
The greatest ability is the ability to develop abilities.
98% of employees who have good leaders are motivated to do their best. Only 11% of employees with ineffective managers felt motivated to give their best.*
Improvement stops when people believe they’ve reached the level of “acceptable” performance.
Challenge people to reach for the next level by asking a simple question.
“How do we take this to the next level?”
I’ve been asking teams this question. It works.
Tip: You never get to the next level by repeating the past.
How might leaders bring out the best in others? In teams?
You’ve probably heard the term “emotional intelligence.” It’s come into vogue in recent years, with numerous books being written about the subject. Businesses are increasingly focusing on emotional intelligence and researchers are increasingly learning its importance.
But what exactly is emotional intelligence? How can you determine if you have those characteristics? And why is it so important?
The term “emotional intelligence” (EI or EQ) was coined by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer. Author Dan Goleman made the term mainstream in his book “Emotional Intelligence.”
Typically, EQ includes two related, but distinct items:
Those who have a high EQ are highly in tune with both their own emotions and the emotions of those around them. They can recognize and understand the various feelings that sweep through them and are able to appropriately manage them.
Those with a low EQ find themselves unable to understand why they feel a certain way and unable to process the emotions they’re feeling.
David Caruso distinguished between EQ and IQ this way:
It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head—it is the unique intersection of both.
Emotional intelligence is hugely important in terms of success. Those who want to excel in life and work need a high EQ. If you can’t understand yourself or others, you simply won’t be able to improve in specific, important areas.
Discussing the interplay between IQ and EQ, Michael Akers and Grover Porter write:
How well you do in your life and career is determined by both. IQ alone is not enough; EQ also matters. In fact, psychologists generally agree that among the ingredients for success, IQ counts for roughly 10% (at best 25%); the rest depends on everything else—including EQ.
Let me be honest. I can be a controlling person. It’s part of my character. I know that. I test that way with StrengthsFinders. If no one is taking charge, I’ll take over the room. (And, not because I’m extroverted. I’m not.) If we both come to a four-way stop at the same time – as nice as I try to be and as much as I love others – I won’t stall long for you to decide if you’re going. It’s just how I’m wired. If the leader isn’t in the room, I’ll lead.
I think my team, however – or at least I hope – would tell you I don’t perform as a controlling leader. Some may even wish I controlled more. It’s been a long process to discipline myself not to respond how I am naturally inclined to do.
Leaders, if you want to to have a healthy team environment, you must learn to control less and influence more. The differences are measured in the results of creating a healthy team.
I have learned thought that successful leaders understands the difference in leading with influence and leading with control.
Here’s what I mean by the results of controlling versus influence:
Leaders, take your pick – control or influence. You can’t have it both ways. One will always be more dominant. Granted, I could write a whole blog post (and, I have) on the messiness of leading by influence. There will often be confusion, lack of clarity, and misunderstandings. It comes when all the rules aren’t clearly defined. This, however, is a tension to be managed not a problem to be solved. (I think Andy Stanley said that first.)
When it comes to creating organizational health – influence will always trump control. Every time.
Have you ever been or worked for a controlling leader?
Have you been in an environment where influence is dominant?
Which did you prefer?