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Thirteen leadership tips for healthcare executives


Industry leaders share their go-to strategies.

Industry leaders share their go-to strategies.



“Your team is your lifeblood. Invest in, trust, and nourish your team every day and they will exceed your wildest expectations.”-Chad Johnson, senior vice president, Phoenix Children’s Care Network




“Have a passion for what you do … it will catch on.”-Douglas L. Chaet, FACHE, founder and chairman emeritus of the American Association of Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems and managed care thought leader, Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor





 “Listen, listen, listen.”-Joel Brill, MD, chief medical officer, Predictive Health, LLC, Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor





“Set priorities, allocate resources, assign the right people and then get out of the way.”-Perry Cohen, PharmD, chief executive officer, The Pharmacy Group, Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor




“Be a good listener and don’t react immediately to good or bad news. I have found that delay can be your friend in making decisions as new information is often coming in. The only decisions I have regretted making were ones I made too quickly, even if they were ultimately the correct decision.”-Margaret Murray, CEO, Association for Community Affiliated Plans, Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor




Get to know everyone. “I’ve emulated something my former boss, Dr. Joseph Hahn, did his entire career. He spent as much time talking to the patient transporters and housekeeping personnel as he did to hospital CEOs. He knew more about was what really going on in the workplace than almost anyone. They never hesitated to let us know when something needed to be addressed, and we were able to tackle issues before they became big. He did it for the benefit of our patients, and it worked.”-Cynthia Hundorfean, president and CEO, Allegheny Health Network




Focus on effective communication. “First, don’t speak, listen. Most people don’t listen to what their customer or adversary is saying. Often, the person is thinking about how to look smart or how to make his/her next point rather than digesting the information from the speaker. As a result, many cues are missed. Critical information is overlooked. Misunderstandings cultivate and flourish. Many executives don’t listen to their employees. I’ve even seen some ask questions and not wait for a response. Taking time to consume, digest and analyze information through active listening is a skill few leaders possess.”-Joel White, president, the Council for Affordable Health Coverage





“I have three leadership rules that I live by:

1.     Seek first to understand, then be understood.   

2.     Stand tall when you are right. Leadership requires courage and conviction. Once you’ve sought to understand, it is now time to be understood.

3.     Earn the respect of your colleagues, and they will follow your lead. Leadership is an amalgam of self-confidence, smarts, diplomacy, courage, and experience. People seek leaders whom they can respect and believe in.” -Carla Smith, MA, FHIMSS, CNM, executive vice president, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society  


Value your team. “Your team and the talent you cultivate for the company ultimately drive the business. No one does it alone. It’s insightful leadership that recognizes the importance of the team and how it influences the company, culture and success.”-Pamela Morris, president and CEO, CareSource 




Stay true to your values. “Personal integrity is perhaps the single most essential element of success in leadership, in my opinion. When I think about the people I most admire and respect, integrity is a common thread among all of them. It is easy to destroy one’s integrity with small lapses in honesty or judgement, and once gone, it can be quite difficult to regain.  So, my most important leadership tip would be to stay true to your values and maintain your personal and professional integrity at all times.”-Susan A. Cantrell, RPh, CAE, CEO, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy




“Remember the Golden Rule. Be to everyone in your organization the kind of leader you would want if you were them.”-Don Hall, principal, DeltaSigma LLC, Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor




Be comfortable with complexity and generous with power. “I’ve led some very different organizations, from the National Health Service in Scotland with a staff of 140,000 to a not-for profit organization like the Institute for Healthcare Improvement with 160-person staff. In both roles, my job as CEO is about two things. First, creating an environment where people can thrive. Second, wanting to make the right decision easier to take. In doing those things, I learned to be comfortable with complexity and generous with power. I am convinced that the successful leaders of the future will not be heroes with all the ‘right’ answers but rather, they will have the humility required to ask the right questions. To sum it up, I’d say ‘heroism is out and humility is in.’ It is far too complicated out there for any leader to try to deal with this range of challenges on their own. Leadership is a team activity not a solo sport.”-Derek Feeley, president and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement




“Success as a leader in today’s business landscape is driven by a variety of key actions and characteristics, however, based upon my more than 25 years of professional experience, I see the following three characteristics as most important:

·               Listening skills. Proactively and consistently solicit the opinions of others in an effort gain a more diverse set of perspectives that can drive more well-rounded decision making and a clearer understanding of the true pulse of the organization.

·               Genuine humility. Be accepting of our own strengths as well as our own limitations and appreciate the feedback, strengths and contributions of others.

·               The right attitude. Continuously demonstrate a positive, confident outlook, which in turn can inspire and motivate others and hopefully promote similar behavior throughout the organization.”-David Calabrese, vice president and chief pharmacy officer, OptumRx, Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor 

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