Chuck Lauer on the ACA's downside, patriotism and essential leadership traits

Thought leader and former publisher of Modern Healthcare Chuck Lauer took some time to share his wisdom on nonnegotiable traits of colleagues, the CEO he admires most, negative consequences of the Affordable Care Act and some recommended reading.

Question: Who is a CEO, in healthcare or any other industry, who you most admire? Why?

Chuck Lauer: I view Michael Dowling, the president and CEO of the Great Neck, N.Y.-based North Shore-LIJ Health System, as one of the most innovative and visionary healthcare CEOs in the business to date. By his courage and leadership, he has made North Shore-LIJ one of the top health systems in the country today. Mr. Dowling believes excellence should be the norm when treating patients and he will not abide mediocrity in the hospitals he oversees.

Q: What is a "nonnegotiable" that you look for in employees or colleagues? What character trait, habit or philosophy must they possess for you to work well together?

CL: A willingness to be both flexible and caring when dealing with colleagues is essential. I am a firm believer in teamwork and therefore I put great emphasis on subjugating one's ego to help the team achieve success! A positive attitude is a trait I believe is essential for anyone who wants to grow and become a true leader. Too often leaders overlook the fundamental essentials that are inherent in gifted employees. They include good character, honesty, respect for others and a relentless pursuit of excellence!

Q: What was the last piece of healthcare news that truly surprised you — in a positive or negative way? Why?

CL: The passage of the ACA by Congress without first understanding what was in the total bill was a surprise. As a result, there have been many unintended negative consequences that could have been avoided if there were a more thorough review of the bill by both Republicans and Democrats. Someone once said that essence of any contract is in the details, and yet the ACA was passed by Congress without understanding the details. We as a nation are now paying the consequences for that casual attitude with increasing private health insurance costs, rationing and narrowing of patient options in terms of choosing physicians, hospitals that serve the poor closing all over the country and increasing hospital consolidation, which results in rising prices across the board.

Q: The last great book you read — what was it and why did you enjoy it so?

CL: I recently read Medal of Honor, which contains portraits of Medal of Honor recipients. We sometimes take for granted the sacrifices many of our veterans have made, including death, as they fight to preserve the freedom we all enjoy. I read the book recently to remind myself that we still live in a nation where young men and women care deeply about our democracy and are willing to sacrifice their lives for our nation. The book is a most humbling and inspirational read for anyone interested in our country.


More articles on leadership and management:

Former UMass Medical School dean dies at 79
Coping when life throws you a curveball (or hockey puck!)
Protest against racist poster in hospital turns into celebration of diversity

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