Nick Webb

The healthcare industry is changing rapidly.

Among many other seismic shifts in our national economy, the healthcare sector is growing faster than any other. During the first quarter of 2018, for the first time in history, healthcare surpassed both manufacturing and retail, the most significant job creators of the 20th century, to become the largest employer in the United States.

Healthcare organizations are consolidating and getting bigger. The past year has seen mergers in all shapes and sizes, from national hospital system expansions to the vertical combination of retail pharmacy giant CVS Health and insurer Aetna. In every case, the business goal is to achieve scale and turn it into a financial and competitive advantage.

Despite its explosive growth, healthcare remains a labor-intensive industry. The two most destabilizing forces for labor in the last few decades have been globalization (outsourcing jobs) and automation (replacing human workers with robots and machines). But health care is substantially resistant to both, because it’s both local and by its nature person-to-person.
The healthcare sector is seeing bigger organizations and more employees at a time when creating and maintaining a close connection between leaders and employees is more critical than ever.

Today, the winning healthcare leader is a holistic leader. While even a decade ago a successful healthcare leader could have been a technocrat, well versed in one facet of the business and dependent on external reports and data inputs to fill in the gaps and make up for the fact that he or she was functionally myopic. Such a mindset won’t work today. Every leader needs to make a solid connection with as many employees as possible.

Here’s how.

A Solid Connection = Intellect + Emotions + Aspirations

This equation is very simple. In the marketplace of today—where change is accelerating and disruption deepening—the winning leader needs to connect with his or her stakeholders on three levels: with intellect, emotions, and aspirations.


Important decisions—things like project timelines, budgets, and product rollouts—must be made by a CEO who is well informed.

The winning leader knows the practical aspects of the business. Not every detail, but the broad strokes. Remember, in a big company you need to know how to delegate. You need to hire trustworthy, knowledgeable people who will provide honest opinions and data. But you also need to know enough to question them and ask for evidence to back up their opinions. If your technology services manager says, “We need to buy five more MRI machines,” you need to know enough to ask, “What’s our average down time for our existing units? How many hours per day do they spend sit idle? How many are out for repairs, and for how long?”

Winning leaders don’t always know the answers, but they always know what questions to ask.


Winning leaders know that people aren’t robots. People have feelings, opinions, dreams, illusions, and fears.
Not logic, but human emotion drives business. It drives your business.

People make major life decisions based on emotion. They’ll take a job at a company based on emotion. They’ll quit a perfectly good job at a company because of an emotional response or incident.

Winning leaders know that the emotional side of people—customers, employees, leaders—is a very powerful force, and that no two people are emotionally alike. Different things appeal to different people, and different things repel different people. There is no “one size fits all.”

The only way to manage a human being to be highly productive is by getting them into the right place emotionally.


Imagine one of your employees came to you and asked, “Why are we in business?”
If you were asked a question like this, what would you reply?
I hope you wouldn’t say, “To get rich.” That’s probably the worst answer imaginable. While it’s important for your company to earn a profit, it’s not what separates your company from thousands of others.
Remember, as a winning leader your job is to create the maximum value possible within your organization—value to your stakeholders, your investors, your employees, and your community. You need highly motivated and inspired employees.

You motivate and inspire them three ways:

1. By showing them a tangible plan for success (the intellectual part).
2. By showing them you respect them and want nothing but the best for them (the emotional part).
3. By showing them what they do matters—to themselves and to their community (the aspirational part).

Ideally, the mission of the organization will be in alignment with the personal interests of your leadership team, investors, and employees.

As a winning healthcare industry leader, it’s up to you to hire people who are passionate about what they do. In fact, passion is more important than skills. You can teach any intelligent person a skill, but you can never teach them to have a passion. You can only help unlock the passion they already have within themselves.