Hospital CEOs today bare an enormous weight of increasing healthcare quality and performance, while at the same time reducing costs. It is an overwhelming task for even seasoned healthcare executives — one that is made more difficult for many new CEOs who are just starting out and are battling age, and experience gaps.
In an exclusive interview with FierceHealthcare, Nicholas R. Tejeda, CEO of Doctors Hospital of Manteca (Calif.), a 73-bed facility affiliated with the Tenet Healthcare Corporation, talks about his own experience with experience-related perceptions, and offers some excellent leadership advise to hospital executive who find themselves in similar situations.
In the article, Tejeda offers this:
- Communication matters: Appearances do count, he said, which means you can’t dress and act young. “You can’t have spikey hair when you are young leader. Don’t act like a kid. It’s the message that matters.”
- Respect the past: Young CEOs need to learn from the past and integrate those lessons into future decisions, he said. “Often people want to dismiss the past and forget the shoulders they are standing on. Ask about the past but don’t lose sight of the fact that you are supposed to translate those decisions to the future journey,” Tejeda said.
- But look to the future: “If people see you are doing things that benefit the organization in the long term, it will go a long way and they will begin to trust your decision-making and your willingness to work,” he said. “Don’t just do short-sighted things, like yelling, firing or making immediate cost-saving opportunities.”
- Express curiosity: To overcome negative assumptions that staff will make about you as a young leader, take advantage of some expectations that work in your favor. For example, many staff think of young leaders as full of energy and eager to prove themselves. “If they expect it, allow it to be a tool and allow more experienced employees to implement what they want to do if it makes good business sense,” he said. Once staff see that you will take action and get organizational support for their projects, Tejeda said, even the youngest leader can quickly develop credibility and gain employees’ trust.
Though his comments were in response to issues facing younger executives, this is excellent advice, regardless of age or experience level. Engaging with staff to learn, and build trust is more important now than ever before.
With the number of changes and demands on healthcare facilities from both insurances and government entities, hospital staff is increasingly overwhelmed, and look to their leadership to chart a course through to calmer seas and better patient care. To help get there, CEOs should be willing to look for the insight and experience of their staff.