The current issue of Fortune magazine is on lessons from the world’s greatest leaders. Given the importance of visionary and strong leadership in our pivotal health care environment, I picked up the issue with interest. The motivation for the article was a Fortune survey that found only 21% of respondents say they trust business leaders to “make ethical and moral decisions… and only 15% trust government leaders to do so.” Fortune concludes that the world is yearning for great leaders, not those who are simply admirable and powerful, but those who are transformative. It is no surprise that Pope Francis tops the Fortune list of great leaders.
President Clinton, at #5, describes leadership as “bringing people together in pursuit of a common cause, developing a plan to achieve it and staying with it until the goal is achieved.” Retired Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. discusses leading in a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The General states that leaders need to point the way ahead, to see around corners, identifying something significant about the future that others don’t see. This can be extremely challenging in a VUCA world that instead can foster inaction—leaders can get confused and befuddled, and therefore, may not effectively execute. The General’s advice? Seek clarity in your own mind as a leader, so you can articulate how you see things and what you want to achieve, create a common purpose and effective execution plan, and expend energy in the areas that produce the highest payoff. Similar to Clinton’s advice, but nonetheless challenging to achieve.
Everywhere in health care, business and politics, people yearn for leaders who can identify a preferred future –one with vision and hope, not only for today or even this year, but for tomorrow. Can we look forward, not with fear and apprehension of risk, but one with hope and commitment for the future? Can we create a plan, gather the right talent and execute transformation in health care in our organizations and for our state? Our communities are searching for leaders, and many Illinois hospitals and health systems are filling that gap—both humbly and effectively—to make a difference in tomorrow. Just as Fortune did, we just need to look—for leaders who define reality, inspire hope and lead change.
I eagerly surveyed the Fortune list, looking for leaders in health care. Only one came close. Kathy Giusti, CEO of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, is described as “someone who sees beyond existing constraints to imagine novel solutions to once intractable problems.”
How appropriate for our reality.