I learned something really important from my father but I didn’t know I learned it until much later When I was a teenager, we had a family business that made factory goods, aluminum percolators, etc. So he put me to work one summer pushing the broom,
I think I was 17 I’d watch him come out of the management office sometimes,
he was the vice president He’d walk down these stairs, and he’d start to walk the factory floor He’d do this about once, maybe twice a week. Along his walk he’d stop and talk to the people putting together the percolators or painting or stamping He’d spend a few seconds, minutes with them, have a little story, arm on the back, and leave with a smile When he retired, I saw that he was pretty much
a rock star among his employees He was quite a bit older then, but they all wanted his autograph Families lined up to have pictures with him They really liked him so much You know, I watched him do it but what he was doing didn’t dawn on me until about 40 years later So, when I had the opportunity to become CEO of a hospital kind of by accident, I realized just how
important what he was doing was Now, as a surgeon, I was used to walking around and not being in one place all the time and when I became CEO, I really didn’t like being in my office so I’d get out and walk around.
Sometimes I would just stand at the front door, talk to the greeters and the patients, sometimes I’d walk among the staff in the lobby I found out when I walked from the parking garage
into the hospital in the mornings, I had plenty of opportunities along the way to talk to the staff I’d just take a few seconds to sit with them and maybe shake their hand, or ask them how it’s going,
learn what was important to them and thank them for their good work. I could see 4, 5, 6 people in the time I walked from my car to the cafeteria It didn’t take much time, and I learned a great deal about what was going on, and I think they appreciated it also It sure beat sitting in my office! I found out over time, it was crucial
for leaders to be visible to their staff It helps them really get to know and love the people who work so hard for the patients The staff learns that their leaders care, and that they’re interested in what they’re doing every day and they feel comfortable bringing their
concerns forward when the time comes And, I really found out I could get the pulse
of the organization just doing that short walk It was much more important to be out there than in my office