Response from those involved: We’ve been able to attract and retain people who are all-in on becoming the best academic health system in the country. You will hear them talk about wanting to be a part of building something special, and taking advantage of opportunities to be entrepreneurs and pathbreakers. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated how all that we’ve built is working as it should. Our clinical teams are focusing relentlessly on patients and taking caring of each other. I’m enormously proud of them.
Advice to executives in similar positions: Executives need to ensure their strengths match what the organization needs. My work at Keck Medicine has been an opportunity to take everything I’ve learned in my career about leadership, implementing change, and engaging with physicians and put it into action. But leading transformational change is not for everyone. There were days when I sat at my desk and wondered if we had the stamina to keep moving ahead.
Describe your leadership style: I’m painfully optimistic. I’m also very goal-oriented, so I see my role as constantly driving momentum toward achieving our goals. I’m a student of leadership and history. One key lesson I’ve learned is to never fight battles of attrition. If people are recalcitrant about change, I tell my team to leave them be and work with the willing. We can move mountains without having everybody on board. Once people start to see positive changes, the resistance usually melts away. I also believe you should never start with just one initiative because people will pick sides. If you have two or three initiatives, people tend to focus on the positives of all of the initiatives rather than the potential for disruptive change.
How would others describe your style? My team will tell you that I like them to think big, be creative, move swiftly and never be satisfied. When that is set in a trusting environment, great things will happen.