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.”
Yes, be thankful for your successes. Your successes mean you’re having an impact on the world around you.
Don’t hide your successes. Celebrate your successes and be thankful for them.
Hold up… You mean leaders should be thankful for failures? Oh yeah, leaders need to be thankful for failure.
Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. You can examine your failures and see why they didn’t succeed.
Learn and grow from your failures. They’re a great stepping stone to your next success.
If you’re a leader, you’re influencing other people. These could be team members, customers, even your vendors.
Your influence is guiding and leading people. Be thankful for the influence you have on others.
Your team is a valuable part of your leadership. From leaders in training to the people working on the ground floor of your organization, these are the people who are the foundation.
Without your team, there’d be a lot more work for you, the leader, to take on.
Be thankful for your team members. They take a huge weight off of your shoulders.
Sometimes it can be hard to be thankful for the organization you work for. There comes a lot of stress and frustration when you lead an organization.
There are times when you feel unappreciated. You begin to wonder why you’re there when no one values the work you do.
This shouldn’t negate the thankfulness you feel towards the organization. You have the opportunity to guide, build, and lead the organization in a new direction.
Be thankful for the organization you work in.
Sadly, I’ve seen families get passed over by leaders more often than not. The leaders dedicate themselves to leading an organization yet forget to lead the most important organization they chose to join: Their family.
Your family is part of your mission. You chose them. And they’re a godsend.
Be thankful for your family every day. One day they may not be there.