Becker's 9th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with J. Bryan Bennett, Executive Director of the Healthcare Center of Excellence and also Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University

J. Bryan Bennett is Executive Director of the Healthcare Center of Excellence and also serves as Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University.

On April 14th, J. Bryan will give a presentation at Becker's Hospital Review 9th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place April 11-14, 2018 in Chicago.

Bennett Bryan Headshot

To learn more about the conference and J. Bryan's session, click here.

Question: Who or what are the disruptors that have your attention? Why?

J. Bryan Bennett: The disruptors who have my attention are the ones who demonstrate or 'live' their leadership every day. It is one thing to talk about healthcare challenges and post your thoughts on social media, but it is another to show the leader making a difference in his or her organization or community. In times of rapid change, leaders must be seen and heard. They must be seen in their organization reassuring their staff that they understand the challenges they are facing, and they have to be heard by the staff and community assuring them that they care about the challenges they are facing and are doing everything possible to navigate them. Some healthcare leaders make a point of visiting the various departments and conducting feedback sessions with staff to receive their thoughts and suggestions and explain what they are doing to assist them in their jobs. Other leaders are very active in the communities they serve, thus creating a stronger connection with the organizations. A couple of people I follow who do a great job of this are Chris Van Gorder from [San Deigo-based] Scripps Health and John Couris at Tampa (Fla.) General. Both are very active in the community and expand the reach of their activities using social media.

Q: What did you notice about your healthcare experience the last time you were at the receiving end as a patient?

JB: I notice a lot of frustration from the providers and staff with technology and all the documentation requirements. Since most of the doctors I encounter know I work in healthcare, they are usually a bit more candid about their thoughts. In their opinions, which I tend to agree with, the EHR software over-promised and under-delivered. It's not user-friendly and it requires typing skills most doctors do not have. Voice or handwriting recognition would have gone a long way to alleviate much of the resistance faced in the provider community. This is not to mention the lack of true interoperability. In fact, the only way to achieve interoperability between providers has been for the hospital to integrate the different practices under one roof. The other issue we talk about is leadership. I've found that providers are more in tune with leadership issues at the corporate offices than many give them credit for. That is why leaders must make a point of providing opportunities for open communication throughout their organizations. Provide progress reports on major initiatives. Answer questions people might have. Connect with people and empathize with what they are going through.

Q: As a leader, what is the best investment you made in your own professional development in the past five years?

JB: In the past five years, I've worked hard to better understand who I am as a leader. I felt this was critical not only for my success, but also to be capable of helping other leaders and aspiring leaders. When I first started teaching graduate- and undergraduate-level leadership courses nine years ago, I realized most of the material was based on the assumption that leadership could be taught and there was no such thing as a 'natural-born' leader. This reasoning didn't sit well with me since I was always considered a leader even though I had never taken any leadership courses in my lifetime. As I continued my research over the years, I realized there are certain innate qualities the best leaders had and their experiences and environment 'activated' these qualities to make them the leaders they became. I compared these qualities to my background to develop the foundation of my professional leadership process which is detailed in my book, ""Prescribing Leadership in Healthcare,"" and will be presented in my discussion, ""The Personalized Approach to Leadership,"" at the Becker's Annual Meeting in April.

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