4 Hospital, Health System CEOs Describe Their Leadership Style

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Hospital and health system CEOs share how they or their colleagues and employees would describe their leadership style.

There is no one-size-fits-all leadership style for success as a CEO, as everyone has their own approach to management. Some may be authoritative while others are on a first-name basis with nearly every member of their staff. Humor may be emphasized, or  transparency, or both.

Here, four accomplished CEOs of hospitals and health systems from across the country share how they or others would describe their leadership style.

Victoria Bayless. President and CEO of Anne Arundel Medical Center (Annapolis, Md.): In healthcare today, it's easy to give lip service to such terms as "teamwork," and "trust" and "compassion." But at AAMC, these are a few of our values that guide us every day. Staff know our patients and families come first, but they also know a spirit of collegiality and openness to new ideas — fresh ways of looking at old ways, to [encourage] innovation and [give] opportunities to test new programs — is what will continue to advance AAMC.

Many would likely describe my leadership style in these terms, perhaps with just one other characteristic: a sense of humor. What our teams do every day is frequently stressful, [with] demanding long hours and, sometimes, [it is] nothing short of miraculous. If I can help lighten a staff member's day, or [if] we can share a laugh together, it improves everyone's health. And our patients and families are the better for it.

Akram Boutros, MD. President and CEO of The MetroHealth System (Cleveland): Many people have described me as engaging. I think that’s a pretty good summary of my leadership style. I believe it's really important to make sure every stakeholder at every level of the organization is highly engaged with our goals and future vision.
People in my position have an ability to impact the organization, but if you look at what we really do, we play a support role to those who deliver care. So we need to be able to make sure these front-line people are empowered to do the right thing. We often are focused on policies and procedures and processes — and that's much more about doing things right and is very important in healthcare as we are highly regulated — but we want to be able to have shared decision-making for folks to be able to do the right thing.
I make a strong effort to be transparent. My natural state is that I believe in the goodness of those who are in healthcare. I believe in people and don't micromanage — I want them to do their job, and, at MetroHealth, they are all really good at it.

John "Jack" Lynch III. President and CEO of Maine Line Health (Bryn Mawr, Pa.): I like to think that I'm fair, that I'm willing to make tough decisions but look to others to carry out their responsibilities. I'm passionate not only about patient safety and quality, but also about diversity and building a diverse leadership team. Working to eliminate disparities of care based on race and ethnicity is also critically important.

I'm also passionate about integrity. If you're not honest, you don't have a spot on our team. And that is what we are — a team. I'm Jack to everyone in our institution — every housekeeper, patient, nurse, physician or security guard — because we're all working together, contributing our responsible pieces. This creates a culture where people feel very valued, and when people feel valued, they tend to give the very best of themselves every day.

Julie Manas. President and CEO of Sacred Heart Hospital (Eau Claire, Wis.): Optimism has always been a part of my leadership style. I've felt I've always had a servant leadership style as well. I strive to be a collaborator, not a competitor, and to build consensus, not conflict. I have been a life-long mentor.

I approach building a new team or fostering relationships in an existing team by being overt about my goals and expectations. I set the goals in advance and make sure everyone knows what we are all being held accountable for. Then, I just let the leaders do their work. I'm not about micro-managing; if we're all clear about the end results, they could get there a different way than I would have, but as long as we get there, it's okay. It is all about the end result.

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