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Here are some excerpts from my interview with Britt –

On how his style his leadership style has evolved:

“For me it’s always been about purpose. Why am I doing what I’m doing and how can I bless the lives of the people in the community? That really carries over to the people I work with.”

On hiring top executives:

Britt Berrett(I had a candidate for an important senior leadership position so) “I visited his hospital as a friend and watched him interact with the men and women he worked  with and I could tell he was more than just a numbers guy.  He cared more than about just the process and systems, he knew the people and knew their history.”

“When I hire, I look for ambition. I love men and women who want to assume more, have greater responsibility and expend themselves.”

“I want men and women who have purpose, who have values, who profoundly recognize that this is a God-given responsibility and it is a cherished calling in life.”

“I want people to have fun. It’s hard. Healthcare is hard. I learned that from the night shift. If you ever want to find a fun group of people, go to the night shift. They know how to have fun.”

On advising young executives:

“Love the team you’re working with. Respect them. Love your purpose and meaning and love the organization’s purpose and meaning. When you bring those all together – when you really find that energy and passion miraculous things occur.”

“Find purpose and meaning and then have the courage and the passion to move forward.”

On what he looks for when hiring:

  1. Know the people and their history.
  2. Look for ambition.
  3. I want men and women with purpose. Who have values. Who profoundly recognize that this is a cherished calling in life.
  4. I want people who have fun. It’s hard. Healthcare is hard. I learned that from the night shift.

On the state of healthcare and the next phase in healthcare reform:

“I am optimistic. I am absolutely optimistic and hopeful. We understand the dynamics. I am grateful for a President like President Obama who demonstrated tremendous courage. There are elements of what he did in healthcare that are very courageous. We needed change. We needed disruptive change. Was it sustainable? Probably not. Did it need to be modified? No question about it. Did he push the edges of philosophical belief? Yeah, many of mine but I look forward to an approach that embraces the good and then drives, I think, responsibility  and accountability on the individual, on the organization, on the community and as a country.”

On consolidation within the hospital and health system segment:

“I think the consolidation, the creation of integrated delivery systems is endemic. That is just in the fiber of leaders. They want to consolidate and grow and there is a pendulum that swings back and forth. I don’t think that is the solution. I think leadership is the answer. I am an advocate of local autonomy and responsibility. I think (that) when you put leaders in a community and ask this question: How do we improve the quality of care in this community, you find creative solutions. That usually doesn’t come from the corporate office. I would suggest, and my experience would confirm, that they (health systems with centralized decision-making) are doomed. They cruising for a bruising.”

On achieving remarkable success:

At Medical City Hospital Dallas “We enjoyed amazing economic success. We were one of Forbes magazine’s Top 20 hospitals in the US and we were No. 1 in HCA out of 190 hospitals but that was not our focus. Our focus was not on the money. Our focus was building the team.”

On leadership development:

“One of the interesting things I’ve done in all the places that I have worked is creating a leadership development program.  …each organization is unique with special and unique needs. Developing leaders and managers at all levels of the organization I think is a leadership imperative.”

“My (doctoral) dissertation was about the combination of strategic theory and leadership theory. Do your strategic outcomes improve based on your leadership behavior, and the answer is yes.”

“I am absolutely seeing change. I don’t know if it is necessarily from what I’ve said or done in a consulting role, or in my keynote speeches. I am seeing more of this change [focusing on the employees first] and it is inspiring. It is almost like the Tale of Two Cities — the haves and the have nots; those who get it and are moving forward and those who continue to grind for the financials and grind the staff. Their strategy is economically unviable.”

On the Emerging Talent Pool:

“The other thing that is fascinating for me is this new group of young talent. They are innovative, they are bright, they are not encumbered. They are possibilities thinkers. They are bold. I love this new generation. I think we need to welcome them. We have to ask: Where do you see us going and then we have to be humble enough to say that the way we have done things in the past will not take us where we need to be in the future.”

Employees Come First:

“My ah ha moment was when I had the worst boss I ever had. I was young, aspiring. I had a young family, I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and she beat the kageebos out of me, and she was demeaning and demoralizing. I think everyone has had that experience, a bad boss — a micromanager, they are not fair, they are poor communicators, the list goes on and on. She was all of those things. I remember coming home and sitting in front of my house where my sweet wife was trying to everything she could do to support this young executive, and just crying in the car. And I thinking to myself, I will never be that kind of boss. I will never demoralize an individual, and to that end, what can I do? How can I inspire? That was a pivotal time. It was the most bleak period in my career.”

“I committed myself I got this little black book and wrote down all the things I would want my boss to be, how I would be the best boss ever. That drove a lot of my behaviors in the future.  Those that I work with know that is a foundational I ask them: What can I do to be the best boss?”

“Now a caveat: I am not your mommy. This is not a family reunion. We have a purpose and a meaning. Am I going to push it? Absolutely and I am going to encourage you, and you are going to do things you have not done in the past. If this is right for you, wonderful. If its not, lets find a place where you can work. Let’s find a great opportunity. Sometimes it is in the organization and sometimes it is not but lets have the courage as leaders to be committed to the mission, vision and values of the organization.”

Does he miss the day-to-day as a Hospital CEO?

“I miss the people, walking the halls interacting with people that I love. But this (teaching) is a calling in life, to help prepare the next generation for leadership.”