Strong leadership is essential for the success of any organization, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all leadership style perfect for health systems. Many top executives are most effective as leadership chameleons, shifting between styles based on the situation.
Some healthcare leaders are focused on authentic leadership to guide through challenging times, while others are tapping into a transformational style to shape the future of healthcare. Sixty-eight hospital and health system leaders shared their personal leadership styles and philosophies with Becker’s.
The executives featured in this article are all speaking at the Becker’s Healthcare 13th Annual Meeting on April 3-6, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.
To learn more about this event, click here.
If you would like to join as a speaker, contact Mariah Muhammad at email@example.com. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Jessica Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of an ongoing series, Becker’s is talking to healthcare leaders who will speak at our conference. The following are answers from our speakers at the event.
Question: Describe your leadership style and how you ‘lead’ others.
John Couris, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tampa General Hospital (Fla.): As a leader in the healthcare field, providing the highest quality and most compassionate care is at the heart of what we do, and it must guide every aspect of our business. Most importantly, it guides me as a leader, a colleague, and a person. I truly believe that our ability at Florida Health Sciences Center to provide world-class care begins with everyone across the organization offering the same level of care and compassion to colleagues and fellow team members as we do to patients and families.
This belief anchors my leadership style and how I lead others. I have worked and continue to work to build an organizational culture that is rooted and thrives on authenticity, kindness, vulnerability, and transparency. Each day, I practice authentic leadership, where I strive to show up as my most authentic self, be transparent and communicate honestly and openly with my team, be vulnerable about my challenges, and show the level of kindness we all deserve as human beings. My expectation is that my team takes note of my approach and my behavior as a leader and reflects that back in the work they do with their team members and colleagues.
Cliff Megerian, MD, FACS. Chief Executive Officer of University Hospitals, Cleveland
People who are successful in leading others know that it’s a skill you practice every day, with the goal of continuous improvement over time. It’s not something you’re just ‘born’ to – it takes dedication, a substantial amount of self-reflection and hard work. But the rewards are great. By constantly trying to better yourself as a leader through reading and self-study, you can then develop other leaders in your organization. My approach at University Hospitals is to lead our health system and its dedicated caregivers with humility, honesty and transparency.
Careful, intentional listening is also paramount. I routinely seek our caregivers’ input on matters impacting our ability to deliver care and value to our patients. We embrace a ‘Speak-Up’ mentality. I maintain an open-door policy regarding communication and encourage candid discussion as we move our health system forward. Making an extra effort to recognize our caregivers for a job well done publicly is another key component of my leadership style, and we have several initiatives that do just that. It’s a win-win: Our caregivers deserve the accolades, and learning about their fellow caregivers’ achievements can motivate others and help us all achieve our goals.
Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD. Founding Dean and Chief Executive Officer of Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (Pasadena, Cali.): In my view, leadership is about recruiting and welcoming talented people and making sure they have a seat and a voice at our table. A mission as complex as opening a brand-new medical school during a global pandemic demanded many skill sets. So, I needed to empower my team to use their vast range of talents. I do this by listening —- and making it comfortable for each of them to raise ideas, flag concerns, and disagree. I know that when we hear more voices, we make better decisions. And no surprise, our students often have many of the best insights and ideas.
David Nosacka, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): In my line of work, leadership is often solving problems and being a business partner to our leaders throughout the organization. The day colleagues stop bringing issues forward to me is the day they have either lost confidence in me and or believe I don’t care. I believe the privilege of leadership is something I have to earn every day.
James G. Terwilliger. Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): As a leader, I feel it’s vital to be clear with my colleagues on the broader purpose of our work, while empowering them to make decisions. First, I always make sure there is clarity on goals and outcomes — what is the problem that we are trying to solve? It’s important to give your colleagues the autonomy to determine the route, but always identify the destination. Second, it is crucial to tie the outcome to a larger purpose — identify the ‘why’ in the work we are doing.
Gerard Brogan. Senior Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): Leadership is a function of trust, plain and simple. As a leader, you must challenge your team to function at a higher level than they may initially think they can. When you resource them appropriately, guide them when needed, educate them about the ‘why’ we are doing something, and inspire them. A team ignites under its own energy. Acknowledge their success, publicly promote them and they will look for the next challenge. Once your team trusts that you will create an environment where they can thrive, their work will no longer feel like work. Knowing you helped them grow and build confidence and seeing it in how they take on a new project is one of the most satisfying parts of leadership. Good leaders work hard at becoming irrelevant.
Mona Baset, MBA, MA. Vice President, Digital Services of Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City): I would describe my leadership style as empowering. I am not here to tell the team how things should be done — in many cases, they have far deeper expertise. My role is to support and translate the organization’s vision and to help us stay focused and move forward quickly. I also help create an environment where caregivers feel empowered to innovate, provide feedback, collaborate and have fun. All of this allows caregivers to do their best work, feel ownership and purpose, and deliver incredible solutions.
Peggy Duggan, MD. Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital: As the executive vice president and chief medical officer at a large academic and complex health system like Tampa General Hospital, strong leaders are a key component of our success. Personally, as a leader, my go-to behavior is honesty at all times. Nothing is more important than my integrity as a leader. My team can take that to the bank. I love cultivating great leaders by providing my team license to make decisions, be successful and make errors. It is all part of the process of improvement. As long as we are all learning together to be better every day, I am committed to that process. It is really all about continuous improvement, hard work and curiosity, and realizing what we do matters. But to me, integrity and honesty are my natural state as a leader and a person, and it has always served my team and me well.
Sunila Levi. Vice President, Healthcare Platform Strategy of CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): My leadership style as a healthcare leader is one of a ‘giver’ mindset. I have been given opportunities to learn and grow in my career. Now it’s time to give! I give my skills, experience, time and talents all that is needed to help support the organization’s mission and growth through strategy, projects and work, to recognize and enable my leaders to grow, and to support my team in achieving the change that the healthcare industry needs.
Stacey Noonan, MBA, FACHE. Vice President, Provider Relations of HCA Healthcare (Nashville, Tenn.): As a servant leader, I prioritize fostering leadership in others. I am passionate about investing time with each member of my team to understand their short-term and long-term goals and aspirations. Together we create individual development plans to connect them with opportunities, mentors or projects that will help them on their development journey. In turn, I ask them to share their learnings and experiences with other members of our team or their mentors as a way to develop others.
Holly McCormack, DNP, RN. Chief Executive Officer and President of Cottage Hospital (Santa Barbara, Calif.): I typically describe my leadership style as authentic leadership. It is essential to be as transparent as possible. This transparency is vital to building and developing trust within a team. My strong sense of self and morality are key attributes typically associated with authentic leadership. I hope these characteristics help set the tone for my team and become the foundation of a healthy workplace culture. As we know, a positive workplace culture is paramount for recruiting and retaining an engaged workforce.
Michael Connelly. Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of Bon Secours Mercy Health (Cincinnati): These are the top nine leadership traits I have aspired to achieve: (1) Integrity; (2) Honesty; (3) Expert Knowledge; (4) Wisdom (how to use knowledge); (5) Emotional intelligence; (6) Humility; (7) Curiosity; (8) Persistence; (9) Endurance.
Michael Ugwueke. President and Chief Executive Officer of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (Memphis, Tenn.): My leadership style is driven by a deep-seated passion for providing equal access and safeguarding patients from harm in a complicated, often high-stress care environment. It is directed by data to ensure all decisions are based on fact versus assumptions or subjective feelings and a strong mission-focused Power of One culture that prepares, informs, and encourages our entire workforce to improve every life we are privileged to touch.
Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN. President and Chief Executive Officer of The Queen’s Health System (Honolulu, Hawaii): I strive to be a transparent and collaborative leader, having always believed that a team-based model delivers the best outcomes. The culture at Queen’s, as modeled by our entire leadership team, is one of collaboration and partnership. I encourage every leader within our organization to maintain close contact with their team members, and it is a priority for me as well. I am strengthened as a leader when I’m able to hear from our frontline caregivers first-hand about how we have and can continue to make a difference for the communities we serve. Additionally, I strive to lead in a way that fosters transformation and innovation, creating an engaging and nurturing environment and providing the space for leaders and team members to gain experience, conduct research and further their education.
Matthew Primack, PT, DPT, MBA. President of Advocate Condell Medical Center (Libertyville, Ill.): I would describe myself as a humble, collaborative, and inclusive leader that utilizes evidence-based data analytics to make thoughtful strategic decisions. I consider our role as healthcare leaders to inspire everyone around us and provide the tools, guidance, and resources for our teams to be successful. I lead through integrity, transparency and optimism. The most critical aspect of strong leadership is building trust with those you serve.
Alexa B. Kimball, MD, MPH. President and Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston): I consider myself a collaborative leader who uses coaching techniques to develop my team while we problem-solve. However, leaders must be able to adapt their management styles to different situations. During COVID, for example, our organization needed quick and decisive decisions in a crisis, so I adjusted my approach to be more centralized and declarative. That worked very well for us during the pandemic, but now that we’re entering a new phase, I can switch back to my intuitive style so the organization can continue to thrive.
Tom Siemers. Chief Executive Officer of Wilbarger General Hospital (Vernon, Texas): People-oriented, mission-focused. To me, leadership is about building a team passionate about the organization and our mission. Here’s what I wrote to my team on New Year: “Where we are now is a far cry from where we’ll be next year at this time. That’s not to say everything will be perfect. It won’t. But we believe in the rightness of our mission. We believe in each other and our team’s ability to make our goals a reality. 2023 is here! Let’s do this!”
Bradd Busick. Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of MultiCare (Tacoma, Wash.): My leadership style is authentic, outcome-oriented and focused on the growth and development of my team. I am bullish on creating a leading organizational culture and strive to connect our staff to the frontline work of patient care in meaningful ways.
Gail Games, MHA, FACHE. Chief Learning and Development Officer of Holzer Health System (Gallipolis, Ohio): I love to develop those around me and empower them to make both warranted recommendations and their own decisions when the situation calls for them. I don’t micro-manage. I lead by example and believe in making those around me stronger within their position, self-development and knowledge. They make me look great!
Pat Rosenberg. Chief Nurse Officer of Touro University (New York): My leadership style is that of a servant leader. My primary role as a leader is to ensure that those who I lead have the resources, skills, support, education, and whatever they may need so that they can succeed. I don’t want the team to feel that my support is there just to get the job done. It is there so they can have the freedom to be as innovative as they need so that one day they don’t need me to lead them. They will lead others and then I have truly been a successful leader.
Maya Angelou once said, ‘Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else’ My role is always to encourage others to stand up to be strong enough to know when and how they need to be seen and heard and to give them the tools to be successful when they have found that voice. That can be the voice of the caregiver or the voice of a new leader. There are many ways to lead, as I also know that sometimes I should know when I should be following and supporting the team from behind, still leading but knowing that they need more of a follower than being out front.
Arun Mathews, MD. Chief Medical Officer of MultiCare (Tacoma, Wash.): I’d describe my style as aspirational. In my experience, there are very few true burning platforms, and while it is good to be aware of existential threats, meaning and purpose often win the day over fear as a long-term motivating force. If I can start a meeting with a great and, ideally, relevant story, whether about patient safety or trust, all the better. A good story can draw the group in and allows for moments of gratitude, joy, and, occasionally, awe.
Thomas M. Maddox, MD. Vice President, Digital Products and Innovation of BJC HealthCare/Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis): I find the leadership coaching model very effective. Just like in sports coaching, good leaders share strategies for solving problems and continual feedback on how their teammates are doing. With this approach, you can increase the skills and confidence of your team while also giving them the model to become effective leaders in their own right.
Jean Ann Larson, PhD. Chief Leadership Development Officer of UAB Medicine, Senior Associate Dean of Heersink School of Medicine (Birmingham, Ala.): In terms of how I lead, one overarching assumption I make about each team member is that they are creative, capable and complete. I am fortunate that this assumption serves me well given the teams I have led. I like to surround myself with people who have strengths and skills that I do not necessarily have and I like to hire really smart, purpose-driven people. Once I’ve done this, my job is to work alongside my teammates and make sure that any hurdles are removed so that they can do what they do best.
Babatope Fatuyi, MD. Chief Medical Information Officer of UT Health Science Center Houston: I would describe my leadership style as a blend of transformational and democratic. I am enthusiastic, passionate, and energetic; these are traits of a transformational leader. In the world of informatics and physician leadership, it is crucial to be involved and focused on transforming others to advance one another and encouraging people to look out for one and the organization as a whole. I implement ideas by being flexible, influencing and enhancing those around me directly and indirectly. Hearing other people’s opinions enriches the teams and the organization. I have found this to boost engagement, retention, with satisfaction. This quality aligns with the democratic style of my leadership.
Michelle Winfield-Hanrahan, RN, BSN. Chief Clinical Access Officer and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Access of the University of Arkansas for Medical Services (Little Rock): My leadership style is one of coaching or conscious leadership, focusing on the individuals on the team through the identification and nurturing of their current strengths. I focus on emphasizing their success by providing them with new opportunities to engage their strengths for success, offering guidance and meeting regularly to discuss constructive feedback. This leadership style has worked well for me and helped motivate my teams as they feel supported through my trust in them to develop their independent problem-solving skills. This style follows most closely to the servant leadership style and has allowed me to create a great team of individuals to help support the mission and vision of my organization.
Ian Jasenof, MD, FACOG, MHA, CPE. Chief Medical Officer of Mile Square Health Center – UI Health (Chicago): My leadership style can be easily summarized as servant leadership, which puts the needs, growth, and well-being of followers first. I have adopted a serve-first mindset which prioritizes our organization, employees, and community above myself. This truly is the best way to lead in healthcare.
Stonish Pierce, FACHE. Chief Operating Officer of Holy Cross Health (Silver Spring, Md.): I would describe my leadership style as one of being a servant leader. The epitome of my leadership style is serving others, prioritizing the team and keeping the patient at the center of all decisions in leading in our service-oriented industry. Many current and past collaborators would indicate that I make honest attempts to actively listen, that I regularly demonstrate appreciation, never lose touch with frontline employees and that I trust and empower others to facilitate their individual developments. Above all and as equally articulated by many past employees and physician partners, I lead through inspiration, vision, structure, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and knowledge to affect overall positive change.
Pamela Abner, MBA, CPXP. Vice President and Chief Diversity Operations Officer of Mount Sinai Health System (New York City): My leadership style takes on many dimensions. As a leader in the DEI space, I endeavor to lead by listening to and empowering others. I believe it is important to hear the perspectives of staff/community to be effective. I am also direct about bringing matters forward that I feel are essential to making a difference in moving our organization forward. With that, I find that collaboration with others is an important aspect of my leadership style and effectively partnering with colleagues to apply a lens of equity to our approaches.
James Burroughs. Senior Vice President, Government Affairs and Community Relations and Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of Children’s Minnesota (St. Paul, Minn.): In my role as senior vice president, government and community relations, and chief equity and inclusion officer at Children’s Minnesota, I have many responsibilities. That’s why I strongly believe it is critical for me to be a servant leader, lead through collaboration, and also empower my team to create real change. For example, nearly 40 percent of the kids our pediatric healthcare system serves within our two hospitals are Black, Latino, Asian or Indigenous (Native), and we know this number will continue to grow. I’ve built a team who is working to ensure we’re recruiting patient care workers who reflect our racially diverse patient population.
Children’s Minnesota is also developing programs to address social determinants of health; enhance diversity, equity and inclusion retention and development for our employees and patient families; and promote these positive efforts publicly. For me, leading is more than earning a title – it’s about using my leadership role to collaboratively inspire change and build a team that I can work alongside to make that change a reality.
Vanessa Nazario. Chief Diversity Officer of Memorial Healthcare System (Hollywood, Fla.): My leadership style is a combination of many styles, e.g., transformational and servant leadership; however, my primary style is leading authentically. I am constantly reminding myself to lead by example; therefore, I lead with authenticity so that my identity as a Latina woman is very much a part of the attributes that I proudly showcase as a leader. My motto is I can’t ask of others to do what I am unwilling to do. So as an authentic leader, I must create the space for others to ‘show up’ authentically, too!
Arianne D. Dowdell, JD. Vice President, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of Houston Methodist (Texas): I lead with a tailored approach because I think it’s important to consider how others respond to feedback. That said, my leadership style is best summarized with the acronym ‘LEAD,’ which stands for learn, experience, advocate and develop. As a leader, I think it’s critical to learn from others on my team and within the organization. Doing so allows me to soak in different perspectives, talents and skills others bring to the table.
I try to provide experiences and opportunities for those I lead to help give them the exposure and chance to showcase their talents to a broader audience. To have a strong team, you must be willing to advocate for them as individuals and for the work they support. I lead by advocating at the most important times when they may not be around. Lastly, it’s crucial to develop people within the organization, both informally and formally, to reach their highest potential. Not many people want to be in the same place in five years, so it’s important to understand where they want to be and encourage them to get there.
Jacquelyn Frombach. System Chief Nurse Executive of Marshfield Clinic Health System (Wis.): My goal as a chief nurse executive is to continuously elevate the nursing profession through advocacy and a voice at the table for ongoing growth and evolution in care delivery. It is important in leadership to engage and learn from others to achieve goals, problem-solve, and identify innovative opportunities. Actively listening to teams, involving them in process improvements, and adapting along the way allow for relationship building and collaboration to achieve a clear vision.
Tony S. Reed, MD, PhD, MBA. Senior Vice President, Chief Quality, Safety, & Experience Officer of Inspira Health (Mullica Hill, N.J.): Leadership style is always a great question, as there are so many taxonomies that are not mutually exclusive. I strive to be clear in my vision and committed to the cause while embracing the flexibility and adaptability necessary to promote others’ success. In every leader-member dyad, the dynamic will be different. The onus is on the leader to drive the success of the relationship.
Athena Minor, RN, CCO. Chief Nursing and Clinical Officer of Ohio County Healthcare (Hartford, Ky.): I would have to describe my leadership style as ‘situational leadership.’ While there are many leadership styles, each with its strengths and weaknesses, one leadership style is not effective in all situations. While most leaders tend to naturally lean toward a dominant leadership style, leaders must have the emotional intelligence to evaluate how to lead under various circumstances. As an example, authoritarian leadership or autocratic leadership styles have waned in popularity over the past couple of decades; however, there are circumstances in which these styles of leadership are most effective and efficient. Emergencies, natural disasters, and tight timelines may be situations where people depend on one person to decide and tell others how to conduct operations. Likewise, there are situations that require coaching or servant leadership.
I would say that my natural inclination as a leader would trend more toward transformational leadership, but I have learned over the years to adapt and adjust as needed. I strive to lead people by being authentic and developing trust. Part of developing that trust is through holding myself and others accountable while providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. I am not always successful in my objective and I have made my share of mistakes. Being transparent and owning up to failures and sharing lessons learned also helps the leader establish authenticity with those they are privileged to lead.
Jennifer Olson, MBA. Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Minnesota (St. Paul, Minn.): Children’s Minnesota recently launched what our organization calls Values in Action (ViA). This strategy serves as a way for us to take our organization’s values to the next level by adding competencies, behaviors and measurable actions. These four ViA competencies are: respectful, inclusive, adaptable and accountable. When I consider my leadership style, our Values in Action are what come directly to mind.
I’m known as a decisive leader with the courage to make decisions that keep our organization moving toward continuously improving our already expert level of patient/family care. To make those advancements, we need to be focused on exactly that — the care we provide — and how we can do that with high value. This means we deliver on safety, quality, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency and equity for our patient families, all with sustainability as a freestanding children’s health system.
My job, and my leadership style, is to listen to my colleagues, providers, patients and families, and team members to ensure we can adapt to an evolving healthcare landscape and respect what is needed to deliver exceptional, equitable care now and in the future. As a leader, I’m continuously growing and learning from the expertise and experiences of others. I’m honored and humbled to be entrusted with leadership at Children’s Minnesota.
Scott Nygaard, MD. Chief Operating Officer of Lee Health (Fort Myers, Fla.): My leadership style is best described by Robert Greenleaf in his book The Servant as Leader and I am definitely WIP (Work In Progress). However, I try to use this approach to lead others. It is a plumb line that causes me to take ownership of my personal actions and behaviors in leading. I grew up around a business table and one thing my father taught me was not to be the blamer or the victim. He conveyed that message in the following manner: “LITM- Look In The Mirror” — it might just be you!
Greenleaf himself comments on the fact that in leadership, serve and lead are overused terms with negative connotations but also good words to describe leadership. The measurement of success as defined by Greenleaf: “do those served to grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” If I could only read one book on leadership, it would be this book (only 50 pages); reflecting on the concepts that Greenleaf discusses challenges me daily to be a better leader in service to others.
Mallary McKinney. Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and Senior Vice President of UnityPoint Health (West Des Moines, Iowa): I’m a big believer in leadership that’s collaborative and authentic — reflecting the tone you want to set and the culture you want to create. While my role is to determine the strategy around our brand, marketing and communication decisions, it also empowers my team to elevate the emotive connection to our brand promise. Our goal is to ensure no matter how or where a person interacts with UnityPoint Health they feel safe, seen and know exactly how much they matter to this world. That’s a promise I intentionally practice as a leader as well. Because when you prioritize leading in a way that makes people feel heard, supported and cared for — our best selves and our best work can really flourish.
Martin Hutson. Chief Financial Officer of Coffee Regional Medical Center (Douglas, Ga.): It’s probably old-fashioned, but I try to follow the golden rule. Be the kind of leader that you would want to follow. Be open, ask questions, and try not to be judgemental, at least until you have all the facts. Everyone is going through something of which you know nothing. Listen to what people are telling or trying to tell you. Don’t micromanage but set goals and expectations and follow up on them. I have found that being accessible plays a major part in the process. I have meetings in their departments and get to know everyone as much as possible. Again, this is not a cutting-edge method, but it has always worked for me.
Andy Anderson, MD, MBA. Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality Officer of RWJBarnabas Health (West Orange, N.J.): The best leaders are influencers who: 1) articulate a clear vision for the future, 2) provide clarity and focus on the most important goals and outcomes, and 3) empower others to do their work well. As a healthcare system leader, I influence my colleagues and the entire organization by providing clarity and purpose about the work ahead. I foster high-performing teams as the most important vehicle for our organization to implement the key initiatives needed to achieve the prioritized goals and outcomes. If our team members row in the same direction at the same time, and the leader has steered them correctly, the destination will be reached more safely and efficiently and the best possible outcomes will be achieved.
Rani Morrison. Chief Diversity and Community Health Equity Officer of the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (Chicago): I’ve been told my leadership style is transformational, but I’m not a fan of being boxed in by a concept. My goal is to create more leaders. Therefore my ‘style’ is to model, support, and execute — ethically and with honesty. If I adhere to these values, then those I lead will trust me and, ideally, develop as formal or informal leaders in their own right.
Meng Wei, MBA. Chief of Clinical Analytics at UCLA Health (Cali.): I lead with vision and by example. I lead my team in fulfilling current analytics needs at UCLA Health, and my vision for the future guides our work creating a roadmap for what the role of healthcare analytics can be in years to come. I encourage my team to act innovatively, efficiently, and thoughtfully, and I hope they see those qualities in my leadership.
Bob Benoit. Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of MultiCare (Tacoma, Wash.): My leadership style prioritizes the needs of my team members and focuses on supporting and serving them. I also value collaboration and seek input from team members to make decisions based on consensus or majority vote. I place a strong emphasis on building trust with my team members. This involves being transparent and honest in my communication, following through on commitments, and demonstrating reliability and consistency in my actions.
I prioritize learning and growth for myself and my team. This involves providing opportunities for professional development and seeking feedback from team members to identify areas for improvement. I believe that my own abilities and those of my team members can be developed through hard work and dedication. Overall, my leadership style is characterized by a collaborative, supportive approach that prioritizes building trust, investing in continuous improvement, and fostering a growth mindset.
John Kurvink, CPA, MHA. Vice President, Performance and Financial Strategy; Chief Financial Officer; Chief Innovation Officer of Grey Bruce Health Services (Ontario, Canada): I would say my overriding style is servant leadership. My role is to remove barriers and obstacles that prevent the people I lead from achieving their best. I also believe leadership is situational and needs to pivot to respond to the situation at hand and the needs of your team, which vary over time.
Joanna Perdomo, MD. Physician of Pediatric Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Health System (Miami): My leadership style is based on mutual respect for those I lead and with whom I lead. Taking time to learn about and recognize each individual’s unique talents, diverse perspectives, and experiences is key to building a successful team. With this approach, I strive for everyone to feel genuinely valued, heard and empowered.
Bill Manzie. Administrative Director, Telehealth of Memorial Healthcare System (Hollywood, Fla.): I would describe my leadership style as a relaxed but accountable leadership style. By striking a delicate balance between a managed stressful work environment and a results-driven culture, one could expect to bring out the best in both the leader and the team. This leadership style fosters a positive and collaborative work environment where team members feel empowered to take risks, share ideas, and learn from their mistakes. It enables individuals to tap into their full potential while still being held accountable for their actions.
Shikha Jain, MD, FACP. Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Director of Communication Strategies in Medicine of the University of Illinois Chicago; Associate Director of Oncology Communication & Digital Innovation of the University of Illinois Cancer Center: Leadership requires the ability to identify the voices missing in the conversation and bring them into the discussion. I lead by listening first, identifying gaps, and finding people with expertise and diverse backgrounds and experiences to lead and fill in those gaps. The best leaders are those who lead from where they stand and create a strong team and infrastructure around them to strengthen the organization.
Marjorie Alexander, MBA, CPRP. Managing Director, Physician Recruiting of ChenMed (Miami): Leaders are learners, and learners are leaders! My leadership style is based on serving the greater good and to help others grow to their full potential and to challenge their thinking. I aim to serve the team and organization first and make sure the team’s voices are heard. Communication is an essential part of leadership and I learned that every point should have a story, every story has to have a point, and every story should be relevant. Recognizing the team’s efforts is essential, as what gets recognized gets repeated.
Paul Coyne, DNP, MBA, MS, APRN, AGPCNP-BC. Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive of Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City): In order to lead others, one must seek to truly know the others they are leading and adapt accordingly. In order to understand others, one must seek to know the self. To truly know oneself, one must attempt to lead others. Leading, therefore, is simply what one does when one realizes this truth and tries to help the world realize it too.
Every human being, by this definition, can and should lead, which is why, at HSS, we have a philosophy of ‘leadership by all.’ While, on the surface, this may appear to be a democratic leadership philosophy, it is far more complex, for just because everyone can and should lead by this definition, there is no certainty that all have the courage to lead or the wisdom to lead by this definition. Thus, there is a need for the other styles to coexist, with the ultimate goal of transformational leadership by all as mindsets have been changed.
Ruchi Garg, MD. National Program Director, Gynecologic Oncology, Comprehensive Care and Research Center of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (Boca Raton, Fla.): I generally enjoy collaborating. This is the leadership style I maximally utilize while reserving definite decision-making to move things forward when at an impasse. The goal is always to keep the organization and the big visionary picture and future in mind while accounting for individual gains in order to retain stakeholders and their continued interest and enthusiasm. I like to integrate each team member’s values, talents and opinions on projects to be able to gain the most success.
Liam Woodard, MHA. Vice President, Client Partnerships of Monogram Health (Brentwood, Tenn.): I attempt to lead as water, fluid, and flexible. In my opinion, leadership is one’s ability to meet your team where they need you at that moment while having the experience and expertise to guide them appropriately for what’s still to come. Each individual, each moment of need, requires a deft and unique analysis to quickly diagnose what strategy needs to be deployed, given the situation at hand. Skilled leaders first listen, then adapt their strategy in real-time, adjusting how their message is delivered to maximize their team’s ability to hear the direction for optimal execution.
David Kalainov, MD, MBA. Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Adjunct Lecturer, Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Northwestern University (Chicago): I try to lead by understanding the issues, talking to people, inviting different points of view, working hard, mentoring, and stepping back for another to lead if more qualified for the task at hand. There is always room for personal improvement as a leader.
Shonette Carew, MMH, MBA. Enterprise Senior Director of Strategic Marketing at Nemours Children’s Health (Melbourne, Fla.): My leadership style is encouraging and accountable. At Nemours Children’s Health, leaders like myself and all associates have a shared language and understanding of our 10 Standards of Behavior. Our Standards of Behavior support my leadership style, allowing me to lead my team in a fair, firm and flexible way. While all have a job to do, the execution of that will vary based on the individual involved in work delivery. Understanding the diversity of each of my team members’ motivations, fears and areas for growth in this dynamic healthcare environment allows me to help them roadmap their own success. Our Standard of Behavior No. 10 is to teach, coach and mentor 50 percent of your time. I love this because supporting my teams in reaching new heights in their learning and achieving desired results is personally rewarding.
Adam Haas. Administrative Assistant II of Head and Neck Institute, Cleveland Clinic: Leading is an art, one that takes experience and guided mentorship to achieve the highest level of being an intentional leader. My leadership style is driven by the element of transparency, psychological safety, and the ideology of being one’s self. I ‘lead’ others through physical presence, words of reassurance, and creating a connection between each other in the sense of raw emotion. At the end of the day, we are all people with a desire to be valued and appreciated for who we are, and thus is the way I intend to make people feel each time they interact with me, whether it be via a hallway conversation or a board meeting.
Anuj Vohra, DO, CPE, FACEP. Director, Emergency Services – Northwest Region of Hartford HealthCare (Conn.): My leadership style is a combination of democratic and coaching. I find people respond best when they feel their voice is heard. Team members should have an opportunity to share their ideas, and often, the best initiatives to shape our culture and enhance patient care come from them. As leaders, it is also our responsibility to mentor and coach those who need help. Lower performers can become high performers with the desire and the right coach.
Chad M. Teven, MD, MBA, FACS. Plastic Surgeon, Microsurgeon of Northwestern Medicine; Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Chicago): The best leaders I have worked with genuinely care about their teams and employees, recognizing that each team member has a unique set of perspectives, ideas, and experiences that informs their thought process and worldview. To that end, I lead in a way that recognizes each individual for who they are, taking an interest in each person as a whole and not just as an employee with a specific job function.
My leadership style further recognizes that a diversity of thought and experiences of the team members is integral to optimizing progress. Additionally, I strive for an empathic approach to leadership that provides a safe environment in which individuals feel empowered to share ideas, speak up, work with one another toward our shared goal(s), and even fail at times. Finally, I encourage the practice of job crafting as I have seen firsthand how its appropriate implementation can simultaneously result in improved individual satisfaction and benefit the institution or team at large.
Stephen Q. Hoang, MD, FASA. Pediatric Anesthesiologist, Medication Safety Officer of Children’s Health System of Texas (Dallas): I am a big believer that leaders should prioritize serving the greater good. Thus, my leadership style is most consistent with servant leadership. I also enjoy rounding on team members to demonstrate a culture of support that inspires each member to be excited about their contribution to our strategic goals. Team members acquire personal growth and professional development, while the organization benefits due to employees having a stronger sense of commitment and engagement. This aspect of servant leadership also helps foster innovation. If you have an idea that could improve quality and safety for the children and families that we serve, I will go out of my way to make sure you have the resources and time to work on your idea and help you make it a success.
Joshua R. Guerin, PharmD, MBA. Director, Pharmacy Services, Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital (Boston): I would describe my leadership style as transformative. Given the current landscape of healthcare — one that is complex and uncertain — it is essential to employ a collaborative approach, actively seek out and engage stakeholders and actively listen for feedback. This keeps individuals and teams motivated, drives innovation and fosters change. Additionally, showing empathy toward our teams is critically important as it builds trust and calms the anxiety accompanying change.
Giovanni Piedimonte, MD, FAAP, FCCP. Vice President, Research and Institutional Official, Tulane University; Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Tulane School of Medicine (New Orleans): During these particularly turbulent times, as the healthcare field faces multiple and complex transitions, there is an increased need and demand for strong leadership. Transformational and transactive leadership theories suggest that during transition periods, effective leaders should be able to communicate a clear shared vision and motivate followers to pursue the end goal tirelessly.
In contrast, during periods of stability, effective leaders should be able to motivate continued goal pursuit with minimal errors. In my opinion, to become a better leader, one must capitalize upon their strengths to effectively engage in both transformational and transactional leadership behaviors as the situation necessitates. Even more importantly, we should engage in self-reflection of our personality traits because, by understanding our natural tendencies and preferences, we can better understand how to capitalize on our strengths to address potential challenges in the effort to become more effective leaders. Thus, focusing on the utility of personality, self-reflection, and transformational and transactional leadership is essential in refining our leadership skills and creating a cadre of effective healthcare leaders for future generations.
Eric Tritch. Vice President, Supply Chain of UChicago Medicine (Chicago): My leadership style has certainly evolved over the years. I’ve been lucky to have a number of great leaders with different styles over my career, but I have also learned quite a bit from colleagues and team members. It is easy in a senior leadership role to get lazy about growth and development, but it is more important than ever. I like to think of myself as a compassionate leader who empowers others to be successful by understanding their background and strengths and helping them develop and remove roadblocks. I also must say that I value trust and teamwork as key foundational components of success in my teams.
Scott Polenz, CPA, MBA, FACHE. Vice President of Physician and Advanced Practice Clinician Relations at Marshfield Clinic Health System (Wis.): I lead by hiring great people, listening and supporting them, and getting out of their way. When I interact with physicians and leaders and staff, I try to be authentic, empathetic and visible and present. I also end with a thank you for what one does each and every day to serve our patients and the communities we have the honor to serve.
Christy Bray Ricks, MHA, CPRP, CDR. Vice President, Provider Talent of Ardent Health Services (Nashville, Tenn.): I would describe my leadership style as a servant to my team, organization, & industry. I really focus on prioritizing the greater good — rising tides lift all. As a leader, I am able to motivate others to reach their full potential through empowerment and advocacy to enable them to reach their goals.
Dinesh Kotak, MD. Physician Lead, Oncology Technology, National EICC, The Permanente Medical Group, Co-Chair, National Precision Medicine and Genomics Technology Initiative at Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, Cali.): I believe everyone on my team is a leader, each with unique skills and an important role to play. My role as a physician leader is to ensure that every member of our team understands our mission and purpose of providing high-quality, person-centered, evidence-based care and feels supported, trusted and respected. Once we inspire a team with a common purpose, everything else falls into place.
Michelle Stansbury. Vice President, IT Innovation of Houston Methodist (Texas): My leadership style is very team-oriented, giving guidance as needed to ensure we’re all working towards the transformation of our business that benefits both our patients and clinicians and, at the same time, guiding teams to drive for success. I also believe in fully understanding individual needs – not everyone responds to leadership and feedback in the same way, so it’s important to take into consideration the needs of each team member, which helps develop both trust and passion for exceeding expectations. Once you have the trust and passion of individuals, it is very easy to lead them to success with the right structure and support. Transparency is another key leadership characteristic that I have found leads to a great team environment.
Monica Wharton. Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (Memphis, Tenn.): Leadership, to me, is about paving a path for others to go forward and creating an environment where open conversations are possible. The best leaders are led by their people. This means making authentic connections, listening to understand the organization’s pulse, and empowering teams by removing barriers and getting out of the way. I strive to bring out the best in those around me — and I do this both to honor those whose shoulders I stand on and to create future leaders who, in turn, pay it forward.
Joseph Webb, DSc, MSHA, FACHE. Chief Executive Officer of Nashville General Hospital (Tenn.): If you have spent a substantial amount of time occupying a leadership role in an organization, regardless of industry or size, you will likely find that to be an effective leader, you must adopt a multifaceted leadership style. That is not to say that you should take on a chameleon-like approach to leadership. While leaders will tend to exercise multiple leadership styles, depending on the situation, among them is usually a dominant style. I strive to be a transformational and servant leader; however, during times when the organization is faced with elevated challenges, etc., I tend to shift to a more authoritative style. During normal times of focusing on growth, development and other strategic initiatives, my dominant style is that of a transformational leader.
Dianne Aroh, RN. Senior Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): My leadership style is to be more inclusive when and where it makes sense because people usually buy into what they help to create. I also believe that I work for my team and not the reverse. Great leadership is a partnership with your teams to ensure success and not about command and control.
A command and control style may get you short-term outcomes — but certainly not sustainable and or transformational outcomes. I am also big on flexibility. We are not all the same; we confront different situations every day, and so understanding what brings out the best in others always goes a long way. Finally, I will always lead not only with my head but also with my heart. We are dealing with people, not robots, and so kindness and compassion are critical.
Kerry Shannon. Senior Vice President, Chief Integration Officer of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): Over the years (decades), others have described my style as direct, supportive, transparent, available, thoughtful, and brutally honest. I think I lead mostly by curiosity and inquiry, inviting others to examine situations thoroughly, explore various perspectives and draw conclusions they can both implement and defend. Our industry is full of high-achieving, data-driven people who want to do the right thing, so “leading” is often most effective by walking beside rather than being above or in front.
Ingrid Gerbino, MD. Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): My goal as a leader is to always connect the dots for my team, so they can see how the work they are doing impacts our patients and aligns with our organizational strategies. Being present on the genba or ‘shop floor’ is critical to observe the work being done, connecting with team members, showing curiosity, and expressing gratitude. I am grateful to be part of a learning organization focused on team engagement and continuous improvement as we serve our patients and communities.