Why Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's HR exec Karen Feeney says Bruce Springsteen's autobiography is a great read for leaders

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In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Karen Feeney, senior human resources operations manager of business partner services at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Ms. Feeney will speak during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference on "Beat the Clock - Solving for Contingent Talent Sourcing Challenges" at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: Can you share your best advice for motivating your teams?

Karen Feeney: Just be: 1. The example you seek in others. 2. Accessible and dispense direct and timely feedback through an empathetic filter. 3. A champion of collaborative initiative and incentive to maximize and leverage in a community of practice any gain from individual performance improvement.  

Q: What is your No. 1 deal breaker when it comes to evaluating vendor partnerships? 

KF: Failing to demonstrate viable references and resources for driving transparency with risk mitigation as well as due diligence with risk avoidance. My idealistic 3P's standard — partnership, proactive and performance — may not be realistic as an immediate return on investment but should be considered a mindful target for any vendor seeking new or continued endorsed relationships within my line of sight governance.

It is essential and expected for vendors I engage to be credibly prepared and proven as a "present" partner to protect, serve and share on demand in order to best support pediatric healthcare's organizational goals and service commitments.  Visible and multifunctional operational leaders like me rely significantly on vendor partnerships to achieve competitive and reliable results; therefore, showing readiness to perform, combined with proven performance excellence and flexibility, will make a meaningful difference in the vendor vetting process.

Q: What's the best thing you've read lately? 

KF: While I have enjoyed and continue to select many significantly impressive professional titles to read, the book that I read that resonated most with me in the past few months was the text of "Born to Run," the autobiography by Bruce Springsteen.

Yes, I was already a fan of his music, but now, attest to being an even bigger fan of the artist. After consuming over 500 pages of unreserved, yet surprisingly refined, storytelling from someone who is essentially a band leader, I was left wanting even more life lessons to learn from and perspective to apply both professionally and personally. Much like his ability to channel his songwriting gift into legendary stage command, the Boss leads his reading audience through a refreshingly raw and rhythmic tale that offers testimony, inspiration, romance and serendipitous connection gained from an unwavering sense of self-awareness and commitment to his craft. I particularly found this reflective excerpt, sourced from the "High Hopes" chapter in his book, as a solid mantra for accountability. His ability to gain leadership self-awareness and trust of others is an impressive and can be applied to shape workplace performance greatness:

"I need all my skills to get by and to communicate deeply. For me to sell you what you're buying, I've got to write, arrange, play, perform and, yes, sing to the best of my ability. I am a sum of all my parts. I learned early this is not something to fret about. Every performer has his or her weak link. Part of getting there is knowing what to do with what you have and know what to do with what you DON'T have.  As Clint Eastwood said, "A man's got to know his limitations." Then, forget about them and walk on."

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