Advice from Hospital CEO Traci Bernard

In a recent wide-ranging interview with Traci Bernard, President, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Southlake, Texas, I asked the following question:

Based on your experience and success as a healthcare leader, what two or three pieces of advice would you give a junior executive who aspires to be a hospital or healthcare provider CEO or senior executive?

Traci’s first response was immediate, passionate and based on significant personal and professional success:

“Relationships are key!  Don’t burn bridges.  I tell people all the time … don’t burn bridges!  You never know when that person is going to be the one who sits across the desk from you and either hires (or doesn’t hire) you … or helps you get your next job (or declines to help you get your next job).”

Traci offered her current job as a perfect example.  She left her previous employer, did some consulting and then received a call from a physician leader with whom she had developed an excellent relationship.  The physician leader encouraged Traci to apply for, and except her current position.  The physician obviously served as a highly influential personal and professional reference.

“I have found that no matter where I go across the United States, I run into people that I know.  From a relationship standpoint, healthcare is a small business.  I am a firm believer that if you give and you do for others, it will come back to bless you.  It absolutely has for me.”

“The reality is that there are so many people clamoring for the really good jobs … relationships are absolutely crucial.”

In high stress very ‘political’ positions such as healthcare leadership, it is so easy to lose one’s cool and say or do something that damages or destroys an important relationship. And to Staci’s point… all relationships are important relationships!  Unnecessary negatively perceived comments or actions may seem or feel justified in the passion of the moment, but they can (and probably will) cost you big time, both personally and professionally down the line, and even for the rest of your career.

For aspiring healthcare CEOs and senior leaders, there are plenty of other obstacles and issues to overcome without unnecessarily adding more.  The smartest and wisest aspiring healthcare leaders learn from those who have and are enjoying significant success, adding value and making a positive impact.

Some readers may be thinking … so what’s new?  Everyone knows that relationships are critical.

Do they?  In reality, almost all healthcare CEOs and senior leaders who lose their job or involuntarily leave their position boils down to one critical issue … relationships!  More often than not, their relationship with influential physicians, the medical staff or the board.

You may be a genius, but as a leader, without good to great relationships, you are dead in the water and going nowhere fast!

For the rest of your career, burn these words into your brain … and be sure, on a daily basis, your words and actions are totally aligned with this excellent advice and wisdom:

  • “Relationships are key!  Don’t burn bridges. 
  • From a relationship standpoint, healthcare is a small business.
  • If you give and you do for others, it will come back to bless you. 
  • The reality is that there are so many people clamoring for the really good jobs… relationships are absolutely crucial.”

For more advice and wisdom from Traci Bernard and other senior healthcare leaders, please visit the America’s Healthcare Leaders website.

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I am a leader, speaker, and author who is passionate about Leadership Excellence and Achieiving Greater Success. I am the author of the books Be An Inspirational Leader(2016) and Presidential Leadership (2013), and deliver keynote presentations on those topics and several others.

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