Eye-Opening Health Care Interview With Michael Leyson, MBA, Founder of The Leyson Report

“The pace of change in healthcare is placing increasing demands on our leaders. As technology grows and the need to drive change, communicate, innovate and execute with strength becomes more critical, our leaders need to feel supported, encouraged and valued in order to drive performance and innovation at the strategic level.”

What is your backstory?

I come from a business background. I had two entrepreneurial ventures, the first of which was a tour company to Israel and is no longer operating and the other of which is a hotel resort that I built and developed overseas reaching its 22nd year in business. My first job in healthcare was working for a national rehabilitation center at the age of 16 and it was there where I discovered my desire to help people. After starting my two businesses, I worked for the large managed care consortium, Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and while I was there, I immersed myself in various aspects of the health care system from, accreditation, regulation and licensing to risk management and quality assurance and eventually operations. In June of 2017, I left Kaiser to form my newest venture, The Leyson Report, where we create content with a global perspective, supporting, encouraging and understanding the value of our leaders inspiring action to challenge the status quo and drive performance and innovation at the strategic level. I partner with innovators to find scalable new business models that are sustainable solutions in healthcare. I also started co-organizing a health care leadership and innovation workshop that focuses on the top health care trends and challenges facing our leaders today. I’m also very honored to announce I recently got accepted as a Contributor at Thrive Global.

Photo Credit: MaddieJ — Encino, CA

You have been working in healthcare for many years and you have been successful at consistently performing at the highest levels. What are some of your strategies that could be helpful to healthcare leaders and managers?

Communicate effectively to maintain high engagement levels with your direct reports. In a value-based care era, leaders cannot afford to be closed off. They need to be able to become expert communicators, understanding that engaging the workforce will drive better quality and patient care experiences. I tried to always pay close attention to employee engagement scores and have learned that transparency, collaboration and communication are the driving forces that maintain high engagement scores. Communicating effectively becomes a vital leadership skill as healthcare continues to develop team-based care models where communicating is fundamental to the coordination of care.

Support new leaders in their new roles. When I first started as a mid-level manager in healthcare, I recall being given a pager and told good luck! Today, I understand that one of the utmost important keys in being a strategic leader is supporting new leaders in their roles. They are the catalysts for change, driving innovation and performance from the middle. They are often hemmed in between senior leadership initiatives and the demands of the front line and if they are not supported in their new roles and not given the correct infrastructure to succeed, then they will be left out to dry.

Be comfortable with risk and learn to decide even when you don’t have all the information. Healthcare is an industry that is highly regulated. The amount of risk most leaders take is often minimal and very often, we are rewarded for being risk-averse. But in this new age of rising technological advances, leaders need to not only recognize the need for change, but to they also need be decisive and execute with strength, even with incomplete data in order to innovate for future success.

Tell us something you discovered in health care that you feel we should all now about?

I’ve worked with so many brilliant, heart-centered, kind and compassionate physicians who have demonstrated to me that “if you take care of the patient, everything else will follow”. It is very true what they say; the business follows the care and not the other way around.

What do you feel is a common mistake healthcare leaders often make and how can they fix it?

I think one of the most challenging things to do in healthcare is fostering trust among and between healthcare team members. In my experience leaders in healthcare think about trust as an after thought and not necessarily in a proactive, conscious way. It is most difficult to build trust with your direct reports especially when patient safety is an issue or when policies and procedures are not followed that could have resulted in patient harm. In my former organization, we strive to cultivate psychological safety into the work environment, making it easy for staff to speak up when something is not right. We reward staff who have self reported a “near miss” and we recognize staff who has prevented an error, which we call the “good catch” award.

Photo Credit: Estonia Days UCLA — Prime Minister Juri Ratas

What’s something great that Healthcare leaders are doing right now?

It is exciting to see how healthcare leaders are formalizing structures within the health system to establish a culture that inspires innovation. Improving clinical and financial metrics through in-house innovations that brings ideas from the front line clinical staff into play is what many leading organizations such as Intermountain Health and Kaiser Permanente are doing.

What are 3 pieces of advice you would give?

Have a growth mindset. Never stop learning. Set time aside every week to read literature, attend seminars and educate yourself in order keep up with the industry. The pace of change is happening so quickly that you will be left behind if you don’t.

Stay curious and listen. Approach your day knowing that you don’t know everything. Learn from others, especially your patients. Stay humble and grateful.

Set high standards and don’t take yourself too seriously. I guarantee you that someone is setting high standards and someday that person may be your boss. Take your job seriously, but never take yourself too seriously.