Discover the Essential Components to Effective Leadership

lradick January 17, 2018
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Leading a healthcare organization in today’s complex environment is not easy, nor is it a lock-step series of prescribed tasks. Real leadership is fluid, genuine and must be driven by passion for the patient. During the 2018 Congress on Healthcare Leadership, Mary C. Starmann-Harrison, FACHE, president and CEO of Hospital Sisters Health System, will address the topic of “e-leadership” at the Women Healthcare Executives Breakfast on Tuesday, March 27.

Here, Starmann-Harrison provides Congress attendees with a preview of her talk.

ACHE: Your presentation will focus on three essential components to effective leadership and an engaged workforce: the ability to embrace change, that experience really does matter and that empathy is a must. Why are these three components so essential to leading a healthcare organization?

Mary C. Starmann-Harrison, FACHE

Starmann-Harrison: The saying that “the only constant in life is change” is so true in today’s healthcare environment. Change is constant and as healthcare leaders, we need not only embrace it but also be very nimble. The ability to do that involves being open to change and taking risks. When we weigh risk versus reward, we draw from our experience and that of our team members.

Too often, history repeats itself, which is why learning from our past experiences is so important to making good, solid decisions. Often, it’s not the big projects but the smaller ones that shape a decision.

Empathy is important because we must always remember that the patient comes first in our decision making. We must empathize with patients and lead our organizations in providing them with the services they need. Those services are continually evolving with new technology, which brings us back to being nimble as healthcare leaders and open to change.

ACHE: These three components of healthcare leadership could be applicable to all executives, regardless of gender. Why are these components particularly relevant to women executives? 

Starmann-Harrison: These three components are applicable to all healthcare leaders regardless of gender, but they might be slightly more relevant to women because they often must overcome misperceptions in the workplace, especially as leaders. Subscribing to the three components of embracing change, learning from your experiences and empathizing with patients will show the type of leader you are. These components have the potential to elevate your performance to a place where gender does not matter. Although there are still fewer female healthcare executives than male, women are closing the gap in healthcare leadership. Good leadership isn’t based on gender; it’s based on the ability to embrace, affect and lead change, and to gain experiences and rely on them.

ACHE: What do you hope Congress attendees will learn from this session?

Starmann-Harrison: Throughout your career, you might be asked to do tasks that you think are unnecessary or that you aren’t capable of doing, but you’ll never know where it will lead you. No matter where you are in your career, commit to seeing the value of stepping through doors that open for you. As healthcare leaders, we are constantly asked to know a little about a lot. You can only get to that place by being open to possibility. Being open to possibility leads to new opportunities, and those new opportunities are valuable experiences that will serve you well as a healthcare leader.


Be sure to consider attending additional events, such as this featured breakfast session, while at the 2018 Congress on Healthcare Leadership. The price of this breakfast session is $75. Register today!

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