Becker's CEO + CFO Roundtable 2019: 3 Questions with Suzanne Anderson, President, Virginia Mason Medical Center; Executive Vice President, Virginia Mason Health System

Suzanne Anderson serves as President, Virginia Mason Medical Center; Executive Vice President, Virginia Mason Health System.

On November 12th, Suzanne will give a presentation at Becker's 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place November 11-13, 2019 in Chicago.

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

Question: What is the single most important thing you need to do in your role? 

Suzanne Anderson: Leaders need to be great at connecting dots for people at all levels in the organization—and for those in the community as well. They need to do that over and over and over again. If our teams don’t understand the “why” we won’t be able to move forward.

Q: Healthcare leaders today need skills and talents that span beyond those emphasized during formal training and higher education. What is one specific competency that you learned or sharpened in real life?

SA: There are two key skills that I think I honed during my 21 years in consulting, and they are also the two skills that I often see needing development in leaders. The first is leading through influence, not by “command and control”. Especially at the senior level, there is very little that I actually control, but there is a great deal that I influence. The second is leading through ambiguity. Healthcare is the definition of ambiguity today. Leaders cannot wallow in that and allow their teams to swirl. There are also many parts of that ambiguous environment that we cannot control, and overanalyzing all of the changing components isn’t going to change your strategy. Instead, leaders need to set forth a clear plan that everyone can follow in order to ensure the organization accomplishes its goals and thrives.

Q: We are all pressed for time and attention. Help us sift through the meaningless and the meaningful by sharing the last thing you read, heard or did that shifted your mindset and really made a difference in your personal or professional life.

SA: Speaking of mindset, one of the concepts that we have been using with our teams at Virginia Mason recently is the concept of a Growth Mindset, based on the research of Carol S. Dweck, PhD, in her book, Mindset The New Psychology of Success. It reinforces the concepts of continuous learning, positive thinking, resiliency and other mindsets that will help us to be successful in spite of all of the challenges in healthcare. Her concepts have resonated with our team. If you look through the book, there is a great visual that compares a Growth versus a Fixed Mindset.

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