Three tips from a seasoned CEO to elevate and grow your organization

What does it take to lead a hospital system from being recognized as a regional health care center to a top-10 American hospital system in a little over 10 years?

On May 12, 2020, I interviewed Dr. Steve Allen, MD, MBA — former CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital — to find out.

Turns out, it all boils down to leadership.

Dr. Allen’s leadership propelled Nationwide Children’s Hospital into their period of incredible growth. How did he do this? What was the secret to his leadership style?

Three themes kept coming up in our conversation that can be applied by team leaders anywhere: values, behaviors and communication.

Values. Work with your team to generate a clear set of values that will guide them or organization. Explicitly articulate a set of behaviors that align with those values so everyone understands what living each value looks like. Then, enforce those values through performance management or other incentive systems to ensure they are adopted across the enterprise.

Behaviors. As a leader, it’s important to live your team and organizational values on a daily basis. Directly invite others to openly ‘call you’ on moments when you are not living up to standards. When you violate the values (because you undoubtedly will; you’re not perfect!), make yourself an example. It is your job as leader to respond with humility and gratitude for their courage and acknowledge your need to uphold those values moving forward.

Communication. No matter how large your team or organization, your people need to understand you care. Being visible to your people through periodic, in-person check-ins; sending weekly newsletters or videos; or having a 48-hour personal email response policy are ways to keep connected and demonstrate your concern for your people.

As he described these three themes throughout our conversation, it struck me that these behaviors — leading with values, reinforcing behaviors and communicating regularly — are not relevant solely to the healthcare field.

In fact, they can be implemented by leaders everywhere. I encourage you to try one out today! Share your success stories in the comment box below or by emailing our team at leadership@osu.edu.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.