In This Issue
Messages from Chapter Leadership
Message from the Regent
Message from the Chapter President
Article of Interest
Leading Growth in Lean Times
News & Committee Updates
News from the Education Committee
Membership Report: New Fellows, Members, and Recertified Fellows
Career and Leadership
Ask an Exec!
Member Spotlight: Colonel Michael Foutch
Member Spotlight: Cheryl Kozai, MBA, BSN, RN, FACHE
ACHE National News
Connect With Your Peers
Healthcare Consultants Forum Member Directory: Connecting Executives to Consultants
Forum on Advances in Healthcare Management Research
2021 Premier Corporate Partners
Calendars and Recent Events
Calendar of Events
Calendar of Educational Events
ACHE Resources
Career Corner
Board of Governors Exam at Pearson VUE Testing Centers
Access Complimentary Resources for the Board of Governors Exam
Disclaimers/Sponsors
Ensure delivery of Chapter E-newsletter (Disclaimer)
Thank you to all our Sponsors
Ask an Exec!
Jessica Niles, MBA, RN-C

This month, Greg Christian, Hawaii Market President for Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, took time to share insights into his background and approach to leadership, and some words of advice.

Describe for us your unique path to leadership.

I graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara with a Bachelor’s in Business & Economics. During my senior year we had a guest speaker – the founding Father of ServiceMaster Management Services, LLP - in my International Business class. This guest speaker became my mentor and I joined ServiceMaster in June of 1982. His philosophy and leadership style were “Servant Leadership.” ServiceMaster had strong Christian principles guiding the organization. For example, the name ServiceMaster came from “Service to the Master” referencing Jesus Christ. I learned a lot about the importance and power of building culture within an organization. It requires having strong values for your people. I believe some executives manage up and peer to peer well, but the ones who develop amazing culture are those that have a genuine heart for their people. This does not mean a passive approach, quite the contrary; to me it is like good parenting. As family members, we all want to be loved. In business, all want to be valued. It is up to the leader to create that culture throughout the organization.

Tell us of an individual who influenced you the most and why:

My mentor as noted above was Ken Hansen. He was a devout Christian man. He honored everyone!! He was very strict, yet caring… He was so well liked that no one wanted to let him down. I always say this is one of the best outcomes of culture - the team does not want to let the leader down or their colleagues down. This was the culture leader Ken was. I tried to learn these things each day, often with failure, but knowing it was all about the journey to refine and get better.

Who or what influenced your leadership style?

Most of this is covered above. I have been blessed with many amazing managers that were Servant Leaders. My current boss is amazing! She is genuinely caring and is all about my success. She sees her role as to mentor, yes, but to also clear barriers so I can be more effective. This is the role of the Servant Leader. They are low on EGO and but solid on “WE GO.” This is the leader I want to be for my team. My role is to help my leaders lead and grow in this way too.

What were important early leadership lessons for you?

· Praise in public, counsel in private. · Promote on potential, not just on past performance. · Effective communication must have 3 solid ingredients: Honesty, Directness and Respectfulness. Without all three, people will not listen or hear OR they will not want to follow or go along with the objective you are trying to achieve. · Manage your calendar or it will manage YOU! Time management is critical. · Be visible, don’t hide in your office! Your Servant Leadership conscience should pull on your coat tails… nudging you to be out there showing your care, concern and focus for the organization and its people. · Know your metrics, know what questions to ask, engage in learning from your people. · Be results oriented in all you do, while growing your culture! They go hand in hand!!

Which types of professional development activities did/do you find of value and why:

Interestingly enough I loved Toast Masters when I was at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach. As a young man, it forced me out of my comfort zone and developed my nerves as a speaker. I still get nervous, but it gave me some solid training to organize my thoughts. The Graduate level Executive Development programs offered by ServiceMaster and Kaiser Permanente help you form amazing relationships with your colleagues, while problem solving real organizational challenges.

Are there any habits, practices, or activities you established to further cultivate your leadership style?

When I came to Hawaii, I gave my team a simple book to read. It was: “Honest, Direct and Respectful – 3 words that will change your life” by Dennis Adams. I wanted my team to know that their voice matters. In healthcare, developing a “speak up” culture is imperative. It sets the tone for a culture focused on quality and patient safety. It is a book that forces you to examine yourself in a very honest way. Then it helps you to learn how to develop your communication style so that “Honest, Direct and Respectful” become a routine in how you communicate. We could all use a little more of this style of communication in leaders, especially in our country right now!! Good communication is of upmost importance!!

I make rounding a habit. It is a challenge, but one I am often working to ensure there is time for. It is a chance to model your expectations of your managers in how they should spend time with their people. Ensuring our people know how valued they are to organizational success is HUGE!! I am constantly trying to get better at this.

I review my calendar nearly every day looking two weeks or more ahead so that I am prepared or making time to prepare for what is coming. Also, I do this to make sure to remove meetings that are not aligned and set with organizational goals and objectives.

Every relationship is important. It is important to build trust at all levels. It is impossible to attain 100% from everyone, but we should try. Sometimes some of the strongest trust I have attained was out of conflict, using Honest, Direct and Respectful communication.

Managing Conflict – over the years I learned some solid tools that I have applied to manage conflict. A big piece of this is managing my own emotions so that my behavior models what I expect of others. This is not always easy but look at it as an opportunity to develop strong trust.

Life Balance – find time to be with family, to rest, to rejuvenate…

What advice would you give to those looking to advance in the area of health care administration and leadership?

So much of this can depend on where you are.

If you are a new Post-Graduate, look for Fellowship Programs. Kaiser Permanente hires up to 6 Post-Graduates every year. They are our future. They are selected from a base of 200 – 250 top schools in the country. Seek a Fellowship. Next, I believe it is important to take a role with a leader that will challenge you and help you to advance based on your development. I started out as a housekeeping manager after college. My mentor, the organizational goals, and growth opportunities were huge. So, connecting with a mentor is so critical.

If you are a manager looking to grow… again, find that mentor that will help you, guide you. Also, ask your manager if they would be interested in helping you develop skills and abilities commensurate with the direction you want to go. Some leaders don’t always have managers who are focused to develop their people. That is sad, but it is not the end. Find someone else in the organization or outside the organization that will help you.

Network – Network through groups like ACHE, or your Association, or other Community Business Roundtables or Chambers. This will lead to the development of relationships and who knows, maybe a path to an organization that is more aligned with your personal goals.

What are some things you've done in terms influencing your facility’s organizational culture?

I’ve noted a few above, e.g. rounding, HDR communication, developing relationships, etc. Another important thing is to help influence, develop and encourage the development of people organizationally. I do believe learning is a life-long experience. This was a strong principle and focus of ServiceMaster back in my early years. Kaiser Permanente is very much as focused and it compliments the “walk and talk” in taking a genuine interest in our people.

Any reflections on leading a healthcare organization through the unique challenges of the past year?

We must listen to the consumers of healthcare like never before. We must find ways to meet their needs in quality, service, convenience, and affordability. COVID-19 really forced many organizations like KP to find ways to strengthen virtual capabilities in the primary care arena and in the specialty arena. There is much more to do here.

We must listen to our people and take care of them. KP has learned from the Department of Defense about how PTSD can be supported or managed. Many of our physicians, nurses and staff have seen a “battlefield” of critically ill patients. The impact on our people is huge. A recent report showed that nearly 30% of young healthcare workers are thinking about leaving the healthcare industry. That is all due to the impact of COVID-19. We must find ways to care for and reassure our people. We haven’t been hit as hard in Hawaii, but our people have gone through similar challenges.


Mahalo, Greg, for sharing your story and thoughts with us!