7 CFOs on the philosophies, events or people that influence their leadership style

As hospital CFOs navigate organizational goals and today's industry challenges, there are various philosophies, events or people that influence their leadership styles.

The following hospital and health system finance chiefs have shared these with Becker's Hospital Review since January:

1. Daniel Widawsky, senior vice president, vice dean and CFO of New York City-based NYU Langone Health, shared his experience observing American business executive Jack Welch Jr. in action:

"He had three attributes that in tandem were effective. He was curious. Of course, he was smart. But most important, he was dogged. Until he had an answer, an explanation, a way forward that made sense to him, he wasn't going to move on. He didn't want to be the smartest person in the room, the one with all the answers. On the contrary, he wanted to be surrounded by the smartest people in the room to challenge them and be challenged by them. It was formidable to witness."

2. Jim McManus, CFO of Greenbrae, Calif.-based Marin General Hospital, recognized board members:

"Over the years, I have established a personal board of directors that I interact with from time to time. I will call on them and seek their guidance, especially when I am encountering a situation that I may be unfamiliar with. This board is comprised of business professionals, community members and long-established friendships. They are all people I have trusted and respected throughout the years."

3. Michael Breslin, CFO of New York City-based NewYork-Presbyterian, also discussed learning from board members, as well as his predecessor:

"Watching and learning from our trustees is an incredible experience. We learn from them every day. Also, I have the benefit of my predecessor, Phyllis Lantos, working with the organization in an advisory capacity. Phyllis and I speak and meet regularly, and I welcome her advice and counsel. I work hard every day to further her legacy of fiscal competence coupled with transparency and collaboration."

4. Robin Damschroder, executive vice president and CFO of Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, said many mentors have influenced her leadership style:

"I like to be inclusive and collaborative, and that comes from being transparent. That's transparent about the data. I like to share the same information that I drew upon to reach my conclusion so that other reasonable people would come to the same place or challenge assumptions to ensure that we come to the right outcome. Key mentors in my life have underscored the importance of being inclusive, being collaborative and causing the conversation. And to cause the right conversation, you have to share the data and be transparent about your intentions and your interest."

5. Ben Carter, executive vice president, CFO and treasurer of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, talked about the leaders who influenced him:

"I am a student of great leaders and aspire to great leadership because it brings people together and accomplishes great things. I read a lot about — and from — different types of leaders — from presidents like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, as well as business people like John Francis "Jack" Welch Jr., Alan Mulally and Steve Jobs. In addition, I have studied under great mentors in all of the four organizations in which I've worked. I try to take the best of what I see and what I read and then try to mold my own brand of leadership. I enjoy these pursuits, and I keep trying to hone and sharpen my leadership skills based on my belief in the power of ongoing, continuous learning."

6. Ben Spence, chief financial and business service officer of Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health, talked about his late father, Park Spence:

"He was the type of leader people admired because he had great business insight, focus and discipline, but equally as important was how he treated people with great care and respect. He had a way of encouraging those around him to bring out their very best, and his warm smile helped bring up spirits when challenges were intense. He gave me a paper on 'commitment' that I will never forget. It stated that 'commitment is the words that speak loudly of intentions and the actions that speak louder than words.' His life example helps me daily to strive to bring out the best in myself and all those I interact with."

7. Bert Zimmerli, executive vice president and CFO of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, shared the lessons he learned earlier in his career:

"In one of my first reviews at Ernst & Young, the feedback I received was that while hard work was commendable, I was being paid for results.  I never forgot that message, which was tough at the time.  A results orientation, and getting results in the right way, has driven me ever since."

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