Leadership can transform the culture of an organization and make it more efficient. Several presentations on executive leadership at VITAL2018, our annual meeting, highlighted key insights for executive leaders.

1. Leaders must get staff on board to create a culture of recognition and engagement.

Patty Fahy, MD, and Lynn Elliott, from Fahy Consulting, presented on the importance of taking an evidence-based approach to recognition within an organization. Studies have found senior leaders tend to receive 80 percent of recognition and employees receive 20 percent. To provide recognition, leadership should:

  • clarify expectations;
  • provide thanks that is personal, timely, linked to purpose, and specific; and
  • see the potential in people.

In this session, executive leaders from across the country shared recognition approaches they’ve taken in their organizations.

2. Leaders can ingrain best practices in organizational culture.

Leaders from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) presented on their Best Care initiative. In 2017, UTMB moved into the top 12 among academic health centers in the 2017 Vizient Quality and Accountability Study by focusing on patient experience. Best Care became UTMB’s mantra and a priority for the institution.

“You have to hard wire best practices, and your focus has to stay on patient experience,” said Gulshan Sharma, MD, MPH, vice president and chief medical and clinical innovation officer at UTMB. “You have to find a way to make it ingrained in the culture.”

3. Leaders should think like entrepreneurs.

Janet Elkin and Laura Magner, from GHR Healthcare, encouraged leaders to be elastic, subjective, and not too rigid. They reminded leaders that they can rethink their team by broadening their group of advisers. Elkin and Magner also encouraged leaders to promote collaboration by having team members work individually to find solutions and then reconvene as a team to share.

In addition to these three insights, other presentations on executive leadership highlighted the importance of collaboration, especially when building community partnerships to support graduate medical education (GME). Speakers from Germane Solutions highlighted data showing how residents can make an organization more efficient, and they encouraged leaders to understand what they are spending on GME programs.

Don’t miss valuable insights like these and many others next year, at VITAL2019, June 19–21, in Miami. Our call for presentation and poster proposals opens Oct. 1.