CEO blog: why does leadership matter?

As I start week eight as President and CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital I will be transitioning to this monthly blog from the weekly mini-blogs I wrote in the first few weeks.

The question that stuck

In my first couple of weeks as President and CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital I heard an anecdote that has stuck with me. One of our hospital’s leaders was looking to her team for feedback on how they were finding the transition to a new President and CEO. The answer she got surprised her enough that she mentioned it to me. It was something along the lines of, “why should a new CEO coming matter to me?”

On the one hand, that’s exactly right. Why? Holland Bloorview is an excellent organization, delivering recognized quality care to our clients and their families (having received 100 per cent on our quality and safety review from Accreditation Canada, I think the quality case is pretty easily made). In other words…things are working extremely well and who sits in the office on the hospital’s fifth floor isn’t the first thing on the average clinician’s mind, nor should it be.

On the other hand, the comment got me wondering about the value proposition of the hospital CEO. What is the role? Why is it important? In other words, why it should and does matter.

The role of the CEO

Taking to Google, (what did we do before Google?) I looked for definitions of the role of the CEO. In business, health care and not for profits there are common elements that this (admittedly far from exhaustive survey of) literature shows. CEOs are supposed to:

  • Align and mobilize the different parts of the organization
  • Be great communicators
  • Make sense of the outside environment and translate that for the organization
  • Create more leaders
  • Answer the questions what “business” are we in and what “business” are we not in
  • Balance present need against future investment
  • Shape the values and standards of the organization
  • Inspire innovation

[Sources:
http://www.fastcodesign.com/3042906/the-ceo-of-the-future-is-a-designer-in chiefhttp://www.forbes.com/sites/giovannirodriguez/2012/08/15/do-ceos-matter-anymore/2/; https://hbr.org/2009/05/what-only-the-ceo-can-do; http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB113207479262897747; http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/is-chief-executive-officer-an-inaccurate-job-title.html]

If that list is relatively accurate, then the whole team might want to care about the transition and having a new President and CEO might actually matter to the clinician on the front line, the person at the front desk and the senior leader.

What is the value a new CEO can add?

In thinking about the role of the CEO, and what being new may add, here are some things that a new CEO can do:

  • Ask questions, listen and learn
  • Challenge people to think differently
  • Encourage a culture of problem solving, iteration and innovation
  • Dream big and encourage others to as well
  • Remove impediments
  • Be open, inclusive and transparent and expect that of others
  • Build strong partnerships
  • Be an ambassador for the mission of the organization, in our case as a leader in childhood disability
  • Maintain excellence

Delivering what matters

The strength of an organization is the team. CEOs will come and go and the team will carry on doing its work, in Holland Bloorview’s case, compassionately caring for kids with disabilities, rehabilitation and complex care needs. And, as the organization delivers for our clients, my job as CEO is to deliver for the organization. Together, ensuring our clients and their families benefit.

Maybe that does matter!

Julia
@hanigsberg

One thought on “CEO blog: why does leadership matter?

  1. Dear Julia,

    You’re absolutely correct in having written the following words:

    “The strength of an organization is the team. CEOs will come and go and the team will carry on doing its work, in Holland Bloorview’s case, compassionately caring for kids with disabilities, rehabilitation and complex care needs. And, as the organization delivers for our clients, my job as CEO is to deliver the organization. Together, ensuring our clients and their families benefit.”

    However, and with all do respect, the question should not be, “Why should a new CEO coming matter to me?”, but rather, “What makes you different from your predecessor –why do care so much?” To me, the answer is obvious: “Rachel.”

    For, as a parent, you know all to well that Holland Bloorview provides world-class care and services for children with disabilities and their families. You’re also all to aware of horror of being turned away from a possible program or treatment, which would help your child, but are denied as your daughter does not meet the criteria.

    Moreover, one of the biggest problems facing Holland Bloorview is continuing care, well into adulthood, for those with complex needs, as the healthcare system at large isn’t equipped to care for these families. And, unfortunately, in my experience, things get even worse. For example, my disability (cerebral palsy) is much like Julian Peters. Now, as a result of continual treatment, she is high-functioning and can do just anything she sets her mind to. But, as an adult, Julian will be denied care and endure greater paralysis, spasticity, muscle abnormalities and pain. The concepts of family-centred care and interdependence will become a thing of the past. Families will have no where to go. Your staff know this, but are powerless to do about it.

    Although Holland Bloorview is praised for its financial footing, innovative medical research and award-wining architectural design, its greatest asset will forever be the people within its walls. “If you fight for them, they’ll fight for you –and, so will I!”

    May we never stop turning disability into possibility!!!

    Thank you,

    Matt Kamaratakis

    Like

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