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Brian Harte, MD, President of Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital, discusses leadership challenges, managing conflict, and being open to new opportunities with host Dr. Brian Bolwell.

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Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

Podcast Transcript

Brian Bolwell, MD: Beyond Leadership, a Cleveland Clinic podcast at the intersection of leadership and everything else. In this podcast, we will commingle with extraordinary thinkers and explore the impact of their ideas and experiences on leadership and management.

In today's episode of Beyond Leadership, we're discussing transformational leadership, from hospitals to healthcare executive. I'm your host, Dr. Brian Bolwell, Director of the Mandel Global Learning and Leadership Institute, and I'm thrilled to have one of our organizational leaders at the Cleveland Clinic with us today, Dr. Brian Harte. Dr. Harte is the president of Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital, and the hospital's, the enterprise's, entire Southern region. We've been friends for a very long time, and Brian, welcome to this podcast.

Brian Harte, MD: Thanks, Brian. It's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

Brian Bolwell, MD: Can you tell our listeners a little bit about your leadership journey, where you started in medicine and leading up to what you're doing now?

Brian Harte, MD: I'd be happy to. It's a little long-winded, so I apologize. I came to the Cleveland Clinic in 2004, out of private practice in California, where I'd also done my residency, although I am from Ohio. My journey really began a couple years after I got here to the Cleveland Clinic. I really envisioned my career move back then, again in 2004, as being one that would just take me into a more vigorous and rigorous clinical and teaching environment. That was really the purpose of my move, but a sequence of events really started me on my journey, and one that I certainly had neither anticipated nor knew what to do with at the time. I was asked, in essence, to take on and build a small program at one of our community hospitals. Back then, we were concentrated at the main campus, but we had a series of health system hospitals, which weren't very clinically integrated at the time, and I was asked to basically lead a project at one of them. I resisted that for a while, and that may be something we want to talk about, but eventually I said yes, and went out to that hospital, and learned very quickly that I enjoyed program building. I enjoyed being creative.

The second thing I learned was that by doing so, I seemed to catch the attention of some fairly prominent people here at the Cleveland Clinic. That really was my initial steppingstone or foray into the leadership journey, which has been very good to me here at this organization. I subsequently was asked, because in no small part of that experience, to be the department chair when my group, which had been a section, was elevated to a department, and then very quickly in that, was sort of under the tutelage of Dr. Bronson, David Bronson, who you of course know well, Brian. As he kind of moved through the organization as well, he asked me to take on bigger and bigger roles, so in 2010, I moved out of the world of direct physician management into hospital leadership, because that was one of his integration priorities, and that was a new thing, I think, for those of us at the Cleveland Clinic, the idea that physicians would be leaders, executives of some of our regional hospitals. That was a big step, that again, I kind of struggled with, about whether or not I felt I was ready and willing to make that kind of change, but I did, and am certainly glad that I did in retrospect.

So, from there, I went from a small hospital to a big hospital, which was Hillcrest, and then finally in 2016, when Akron General was acquired by the Cleveland Clinic, thereby becoming a much...The clinic grew by about 10% at the time, with that acquisition, and I was asked to come down here and kind of take my set of experiences, and not just experiences, but also I think relationships, and bring them into a new part of the organization, or the newest at the time, and really lead the integration effort. So, I went from really a doc, kind of... I don't want to say man on the street, but a doc at the Cleveland Clinic, who was really thriving in a teaching and clinical environment, and very quickly sort of pulled into various and bigger and bigger ascending operational, and ultimately executive and management roles. That's kind of where I am today, really, I'd say 15 years into my own leadership journey.

Brian Bolwell, MD: So that's a great story. Let's go back to something you mentioned about resisting a career transition.

Brian Harte, MD: Yeah.

Brian Bolwell, MD: You know, career transitions can be scary for all of us. You've got to weigh the pros and cons. Usually; opportunities are things that you want to take advantage of. What was your thought process back then, as you kind of played it, really several career transitions?

Brian Harte, MD: I would offer that maybe one of my strengths and weaknesses at the same time personally is I maybe am an overly deliberative thinker. I like to plan things out, and at the time, these are opportunities that came along, and the people that I worked with or for, thought that my skills would match the opportunity perfectly, but at the same time, I was very comfortable where I was, so it was very hard for me to envision leaving what I felt to be a fairly comfortable environment, and still with plenty to do. It's not as if where I was stagnant at all, but rather quite the opposite, and I was positioned where I felt that these were big steps, that maybe now wasn't the right time, and I'll get back to that in a second, and that I was comfortable and looked forward to the challenges that faced me in whatever my current role was.

And I think I've learned from that over time, so I think over time, I've become more and more receptive, and had the opportunity to be more receptive to these big leaps, but I think there are a couple of things that I've learned. The first, and probably the biggest one, is to your point, Brian. We don't get to choose the time and place, or circumstances, in which sometimes, sometimes, opportunities are presented. Sometimes, whether you're on the lookout or whether these opportunities open up, I think it's important to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, because we don't get to choose that. That's not within our control. Sometimes we're lucky or sometimes we're in pursuit of them, but I think being receptive to the opportunity as it comes along.

And the second is if a step feels comfortable, it's probably not big enough, so that apprehension is something that was hard for me to embrace, but over time, I think I've been able to, and that was really what led me to come down to Akron, was an appreciation that although my prior hospital leadership job, a hospital called Hillcrest, I was looking forward to continuing a lot of important work. I was also very comfortable, and the idea of moving to Akron was originally overwhelming, and I realized that because it was overwhelming, it was probably the right thing to do, even if in my ideal world, I might have wished, for the reasons I said before, that the opportunity would come along a year or two later.

Brian Bolwell, MD: Can you tell us what a hospital president does in a regional hospital? I mean, one of the big differences for our listeners is that everybody works on the main campus. Every physician is an employee of the main campus, but obviously in our regional hospitals, it's a more open environment, in which people may be employed by the clinic and they may be private practitioners who are using the hospital facilities. That's one obvious difference, but then I think each regional hospital has its own culture and probably its own idiosyncrasies. What do you find are the most important parts of running a hospital?

Brian Harte, MD: I think at its core, the executive component of the job is really threefold. One is the messenger, both internal and external, meaning both to the caregivers who are working at that site and to the community at large, about what's going on within our organization, so about Cleveland Clinic, and some of those messages are very tactical and some are strategic, but most people that work at any given facility, whether it's an inpatient or outpatient facility, see that as their home, so they really rely upon you, or on me in this case of course, to be the conduit of key information. And by the same token, if I'm the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, I need to know that my thoughts, my messages that are being broadcast through the organization are being reinforced at the local level.

From the community standpoint, and I would say a perhaps underappreciated component of the role, is all of our healthcare facilities are really the front door to the Cleveland Clinic for the communities that we reside in. Most of our employees, of course, in the case of Akron, work in the greater Akron area, but Akron looks to my team to be the connection point to the Cleveland Clinic, so when we talk about whether it's what we're doing for the community or just what's going on in terms of the Cleveland Clinic's activities in general, my interface with the community is a fairly substantial part of the role.

The second bucket is taking the Cleveland Clinic's strategy, whether it's around growth, or access, or value, or again about community, and really using the tools I have available to me to implement that strategy as best I can locally. So, it's messenger, it's strategist, and the third part is, and particularly as a physician leader, in our organization, it is essential that I be... that the organization can rely upon me to be the relationship manager with the physician community. Some of them are of course employed by the Cleveland Clinic, but all of our regional hospitals, as you mentioned, have an open medical staff, which means a sizable component of the medical staff is independent. Some of them, frankly, are even employed or aligned with our competitors, and yet they all come here to take care of patients, so we have to be able to work with them, identify where our goals, and strategies, and tactics align, and frankly be transparent about where they are not aligned, so that we can figure out how do we manage that particular conflict.

And I think finally, organizing a team. It was a new experience for me, when I had my first hospital job, instead of having a leadership team that was all physicians, to have a leadership team that consists of operations, nursing, pharmacy, legal, HR, all of whom, we have to remember, just as knowledgeable about their areas of expertise and experience as I am, presumably at least, about medicine. So, viewing the team as a complementary one, or a team of complementary skillsets, and charging them, and directing them to execute on the strategies like I mentioned, has been... It's a real learning experience. It's been a real... It's been a lot of fun for me, but it is a challenge, particularly given my own experiences.

Brian Bolwell, MD: You mentioned the word "relationships" several times, and I remember the first leadership book I ever read was by Jim Hunter, titled The World's Most Powerful Leadership Principle, and basically, he says that work is about relationships, and to a large extent, life is about relationships. How do you go about developing relationships and building relationships, and why are they so important, from your perspective, in having a successful hospital organization?

Brian Harte, MD: Well, I had two advantages early on in my leadership journey. One is, as I mentioned, working for Dr. Bronson, who is really both a role model and, through our frequent interactions, really taught me about the value of not just developing, but preserving and growing relationships, and ultimately, the work that we all do is done by people, especially in medicine. It's done by people with people, and over time, in a big organization, as people move into different positions, the one thing that doesn't change, hopefully, that actually grows, is your connection with people that... particularly when you've worked on projects or with them before.

And the second is when I went out in my first leadership job that I described, to one of our small community hospitals. One of the things I realized I had the opportunity to do, or maybe that I appreciated, was I was in a position, and in fact, I would need to in order to be successful, to take individuals that had never really worked together before, so in this case the president of that hospital, and the president of the regional hospitals, and David Bronson with the family health centers, and some folks in operations at the main campus, and convene with them, and lay out what we were trying to accomplish, and get us to work together.

The ability to do that and put people in... and to connect people was something I found terrifically gratifying, and actually, some of those relationships continue to be things I carry with me now, whenever we are, 15 years later. So, for me, it's been most comfortable. I'm a fairly introverted person, but I've been most comfortable when we can establish relationships around one of two things. One is a project, as I just mentioned, or the second is of course clinical care. I remember David saying that to me. We were talking about a particularly... a person that was not always easy to get along with, but who happened to be a very good clinician. This was at Hillcrest Hospital. He said, "You know, it's really hard to be disagreeable with somebody that you're both working really hard to take care of the same patient with."

That's something that I've always taken with me as well, is to look for, particularly as doctors, particularly as those who first and foremost identify as clinicians, regardless of how much time we might still spend in that pursuit, I think that we all know what it feels like to have good days and bad days, I think we all know what it feels like to have a challenging clinical situation that you really need the help of others to work on, and that really knocks down a lot of the other barriers to developing that relationship.

Brian Bolwell, MD: I really agree with that. I think that's a huge advantage to having physician leaders, is that we all have a common clinical language, and when faced with a tough clinical situation, and you're working with colleagues to try to take care of a patient, that sure is a glue, and a bond, and something you can build on.

Brian Harte, MD: I heard it once described as a physician's... And I suspect it's not unique to physicians, but that's of course where we've spent our time and training and our current state, as almost a guild mentality. And even when I went out to one of my... with the last job I had before Akron, to Hillcrest, I remember members of the medical staff saying, expressing to me directly, and these were people I'd come to have relationships with, as I just described, "We're so thankful that we now have a physician as the president." It just spoke to the kinds of relationships, I think. It doesn't necessarily speak to my administrative competencies, but I think it spoke to the kinds of relationships that physicians look for in their leaders and their work environment, and clinicians in general.

Brian Bolwell, MD: I mean, so as we're talking about relationships, there's a lot of different techniques that are described to build relationships, among them being authenticity, transparency, with the ultimate goal of having trusting relationships, you know? The Speed of Trust, by Stephan Covey is a great leadership book, and I think everything in fact does speed up if you've got trusting relationships. What has worked with you? Because you've been extremely successful generating and cultivating relationships.

Brian Harte, MD: I think in retrospect, a few things have been successful to me. One is getting back to just the clinical side. I work as an internist in the hospital, or a hospitalist, and therefore, my day-to-day work puts me in touch with, when I'm seeing patients at least, usually a couple dozen different clinicians, so that, you described it, Brian, as a glue. That bond is available to me to form very, very quickly.

The second is I have found it very valuable to reach out early on, especially in a new position, reach out to as many people as possible. Of course, all the leaders, that goes without saying, but even those that are of influence, even if they're not in true leadership positions. And one of the simple things I've done in trying to make myself very accessible is, and I did this at South Pointe, which was the first job I had, at Hillcrest, and then here at Akron, was showing physicians that you value their time, and you value their work, just when you're getting to know them, has turned out to be a very powerful way to do that, which I passed on to others, is when you go to meet them, I would meet them in their offices, and I'd be willing to drive a half hour in some cases, to go to their office, to spend 20 minutes to get to know them.

So showing that, you talked about authenticity, talked about trust, but also showing that I respect the work that they do has been very valuable, and I think along part and parcel with that, that early outreach, is following up, and although it sounds like a very simple, in fact maybe almost a pedantic leadership lesson, doing what you say you're going to do is actually, I think, something that people look for very early on when they're in the position of having a new leader. Does this person follow up? Is this person transparent, as you said, but also does this person do two things, really…One is follow up, do what they say they're going to do, and the second is do they have integrity. I think people are very attuned, particularly in a hospital setting, to looking for that follow up piece, and also looking for if you hold... if you have a double standard.

I would like to believe that in my own life, I do both those things no matter what environment I'm in. I try to be very cognizant of when I say I'm going to do something, to... If I said, "Dr. Bolwell, I will follow up when I get back to you," regardless of what the answer actually is, to actually go ahead and do that, and make a point of that very early on. I think that quickly engenders the trust that you were referencing before, and then from there, you can build on it very quickly.

I think the hallmark of relationships, or the value of relationships, is not just speed, as you talked about. It's the ability to then manage conflict in a trusting way, so that you can... Because you're not always going to be able to tell everybody, "Yes, we can provide and do everything that everybody wants us to." Eventually, these jobs, all these positions come down to managing conflict, assigning resources in a resource-constrained environment, and it's the relationships, the trust that we engender in all the time leading up to that decision, or those decisions, that really dictate what's going to happen after that.

Brian Bolwell, MD: A whole bunch of really good points there, Brian. Thank you for that, but I just want to echo the following up piece. You know, that's not something that's all that sexy, and isn't going to create chapter headlines in leadership literature, but if you say you're going to do something and actually doing it speaks volumes, because unfortunately, so often that does not occur. And I think it does speak to integrity. I mean, if you say you're going to do something, you do it, and hopefully it's the right thing to do of course, and you're living your values, but boy, I would echo that. I think that's a very, very thoughtful, and good point. You mentioned building teams earlier, so it's not just relationships with individuals. It's also generating teams, and I think when you were talking about this, you were talking about the non-physician workforce, and all of the administrative staff that's there to help you as a hospital president and has great expertise. How do you generate those teams?

Brian Harte, MD: Well, again, this has been all experiential for me, so a lot of the opportunity to kind of do this podcast, I've had the chance to reflect on questions like that, and I think that there's a few ways that I approach the members of my team, both individually and collectively. On an individual basis, I feel, and I've learned this partly for myself and partly about the way I'd like to lead, and partly about the kinds of people that I like to lead. One is make sure the role is defined. Now in leadership of course, there's always a ton of ambiguity, and you can't... We use the metaphor swim lanes. We can't always clearly articulate exactly what the job is and exactly what the job is not, but we can articulate the boundaries upon which, or within which I should say, somebody's performance should be largely, I would say, up to them.

For instance, what I tell my residents, which is not an example of what you're talking about, is the boundaries that I want them to practice within are wastefulness and bad clinical judgment, but there are many paths forward in terms of the care of a patient, which you might navigate between those two boundaries, so when I have a member of my team, I try to clarify what the job is, what the expectations are, what the results I'm trying to achieve are, both from a team standpoint and that individual, and what for both the team and the individual are the boundaries of their decision-making.

From that point on, I am a very large believer in delegating and giving great latitude to folks to stay within those boundaries. I check in both formally and probably more importantly informally with my team, almost incessantly. We have very frequent check-ins, sidebars, fly-bys, to just do status checks, what's happening in the course of the day. We have both formal huddles and sort of informal check-ins throughout the day. The reason for that is twofold. Number one is to make sure we're all operating from the same set of information at all times, and secondly, it's because of course the pace by which that information changes is so rapid.

And then from the team standpoint, when my team convenes, which is not that often, it's about once a week in a formal way, again we do huddles and other activities through the course of the day, I try to keep those agendas very light, so that we can maximize conversation. And of course, there's a lot of tools in terms of drawing out both conflict and conversation from every member of the team, but I try to make sure that we have a large enough space in which to really manage any particular issue or any particular conflicts as we go. I've found that to be very gratifying from the standpoint of both a leader and manager, and also the feedback that I get from folks.

And I think if I can just sort of expound a little bit more, the final piece I would say is I think one of the hallmarks of leadership is that a leader is humble enough to ask, both individually and collectively, the people that he leads, or she leads, for feedback, and expect and really charge his team with giving candidly and frankly, because at the end of the day, the success of my team is by and large a function of how good a leader I am, and I have to be willing to hear and receive that feedback in order to be a better leader.

Brian Bolwell, MD: Again, a bunch of really good points. One thing I'd like to allude to is how you conduct a meeting and having a relatively open agenda. Boy, I think that's a big deal. You know, I think that creates psychological safety. I think it empowers people to speak up. I think overly scripted meetings can be stifling and diminish engagement, so that's another pearl that I think is a wonderful take-home point.

I'm sure you're a bit different today than you were 15 years ago as a leader. What's different and what have you learned?

Brian Harte, MD: Yeah. Of course, it's one of those situations where if I had a time machine and I could just go back and meet myself from 15 years ago, the first thing I'd say is I've learned, as I said before, to be much more open to opportunities as they present themselves, and understand that whatever path I might see myself on could change at a moment's notice, because of the opportunities that present themselves, because of the situation on the ground. I mean, I think, in no small way, the coronavirus pandemic has taught us all this on a personal, if not professional level.

But I think I've also learned some real skills that have served me well, frankly in my professional and my personal life. The first is to be more patient. The second is to really try to keep my eyes on the big picture. It is very easy. Part of what we do in the hospital operations world is ask the question, "How are we doing this day, this minute, this moment, with all kinds of various and sundry metrics of performance?" But at the same time, where we're going in the long term is the most important thing, particularly as an executive leader.

I think I've learned in my time, the ability to prioritize. I'm not always comfortable giving advice per se, but one of the few pieces of advice I feel very comfortable giving is that as a leader, you have to not only prioritize, because that's relatively easy. What's much harder, I think for all of us, and maybe being a doctor is part of this, is to be comfortable with the idea that some of the things on your to-do list may never get done. Some of the things that you don't say are priorities, some of them may never get done, or they may linger on your to-do list for an indefinite period of time, and that that's okay. And that's served me well in life too. As I've raised three kids and all that jazz, the ability to sort of step back, keep my eyes on the big picture, and focus on the things that are most important has served me well.

And I think finally, embracing the idea of conflict. Again, not something that I think any of us, or most of us, are really comfortable with, but something that is a necessity, to bring out... to both build your team and to realize that if your team, or your family for that matter, welcomes the opportunity to offer different perspectives, and understand that there may be no single right answer that everyone's comfortable with, and that that's okay, that's a really remarkable thing. I've learned that about myself, and I'm more comfortable with those kinds of ambiguities than I was certainly 15 years ago.

Brian Bolwell, MD: You know again, a bunch of really good points there. It's interesting, you know? One of my mentors, kind of the guru of cancer centers, Joe Simone, wrote a pretty famous article about academic medical centers 25 years ago, and he talked about being a clinical academic leader. He said, "After 10 years in a given role, you'll probably achieve about 90% of what you want to achieve, and trying to get the other 10% probably isn't worth it," and that kind of speaks to your point, that you might have all these things on your to-do list, but I'm not sure that it's realistic to think that you're going to check all of those boxes. You've got to get the most important of course, but being perfect at this stuff is probably not associated with thoughtful leadership.

Brian Harte, MD: David Bronson said that a different way. He was a little less forgiving. He said, "Brian, you probably only have three to five years’ worth of really good, original ideas in you." But I think he was saying the same thing, which is to turn that around. One of the things that's psychologically sort of kept me comfortable is, as I said in the beginning, all the things I feel like I want to do, and the realization that there will always be more projects, initiatives, places that you want to take, that is if you enjoy your job where you are, that there's always going to be more that you're going to want to do, and at some point, it's okay to let that go and hand it off to somebody else's leadership, and vision, and ideas and see what direction they can take it in. We're all, at the end of the day, the organizations, especially the academic medical centers, we're all stewards of the organization, and it's that... I would argue it's that influx of new ideas and new leadership that keeps us fresh and keeps us kind of rejuvenating ourselves, if we're doing it right as an organization.

Brian Bolwell, MD: Yeah, yeah, I agree with that. Are you more tolerant, it sounds like you are, than you were 15 years ago? One of the things that sticks with me over the past decade or so about leadership is the concept of forgiveness. Gandhi actually said, "It takes courage to forgive. The weak aren't able to forgive." You know, usually members of your team are doing everything they can to do the right thing and to try to carry out the vision or the task at hand, and usually if there are mistakes, nobody feels worse about it than they do. This is different than accountability, because I think accountability's extremely important in managing anything, certainly managing people. But you know, if you've got people who you have a relationship with and who are trusting, cutting them some slack is often a pretty good idea, and the same thing is actually, I think, true of ourselves. We tend to be perfectionists in this space, and sometimes it's important to cut yourself some slack. Do you find that to be true?

Brian Harte, MD: I think if we have assembled our teams well and we've been well chosen for our own jobs then we have to ascribe the same good intent... And of course it's more than just intention. It's effort, and to use the cliché, giving it your all, to our teams that we ascribe to ourselves. I think you're right. I think we breed perfectionism, and when we fail, and whether it's not succeeding with a plan, or a project, or a business plan, or simply not achieving the goals for our organization or ourselves that we want to, that's a lousy feeling to say the least, and I, like I think many others, take that very personally.

When I feel like our hospital team has let a patient down, I take that personally. I think that's a hallmark of our organization, but I also think along with that, we have to learn to let go a little bit. I think failure at either a macro or even a micro level is something that, if it doesn't make you tolerant, then I think you're probably not growing so much as a leader, and I think the ability to reflect, the ability to have some humility, and then also the ability to dust oneself off, get back up, and stand in the batter's box is also a hallmark of good leadership, that complements well the willingness to forgive oneself.

One of my favorite quotes about a high-reliability organization, "It's not that a high-reliability organization doesn't have failures. It's that a high-reliability organization is not disabled by their failures. It goes through the exercises of reflection, forgiveness, and then persistence and commitment," kind of that cycle, in order to improve. And I would like to say that I think that applies on a personal level too.

Brian Bolwell, MD: Yeah. You know, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, everybody has failures. Hopefully people have the security to admit them, and so much of life is how do you respond to that? I mean, do you dust yourself off and get back up? I mean, Angela Duckworth wrote a book called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, in which her research suggests that's the most powerful predictor of a successful leader. One of the other things that I think the higher one becomes as a leader, that we have to deal with, is the unexpected. I mean, one of the things I found was I almost had to plan on stuff coming up in a given day that you didn't think would come up, or that are a surprise, or I mean out of the blue, some crazy thing happens, and having the maturity and kind of a sense of, "Okay, that's happening again," almost a Zen-like state, is pretty important, because these things are going to keep coming, the sort of uncertainty. Do you agree with that, and if so, how do you manage it?

Brian Harte, MD: I think if I... I've been in my position at Akron, Brian, for five years, and if I had a dollar for every day that my... for every time that my day planned out anything close to how I thought it would play out when I woke up in the morning, I'd have about $2. I have lived, on a daily basis, what you just described, for most of my leadership time, and I think rigidity and inflexibility is probably one of the most negative attributes a leader can have, for exactly that reason. There are some days when I fairly sarcastically and ironically say that I just shouldn't even have appointments on my calendar. I should just... Because whatever my calendar looks like at 7:00 in the morning is going to bear no resemblance to what it looks like at the end of the day when I go home, at say 6:00 in the evening.

That gets back to the need to both know what the priorities of the organization are, so that you can then prioritize what you have to work on. I've become much more patient and tolerant of just there's no point in getting frustrated by it, although I can't say that it sometimes doesn't frustrate me, but rather the uncertainty and the, as you said, sort of the way problems present themselves is not in a linear or predictable pattern, and in a weird sort of perverse way, that's one of things I think many of us really enjoy about the job, which is not always, not every day, and it kind of depends on what the situation at hand is, but the requirement to adapt, and to have to take on things that you didn't see coming, and to challenge yourself and your team to tackle the crises that may come at you from your blind spot. That's a long-winded answer of saying yes, absolutely.

Brian Bolwell, MD: I almost build in time in any given day, because literally 90%, if not higher, of anytime you're running a bunch of physicians, a bunch of... a high-pressure clinical atmosphere and a clinical enterprise, things come up. They just do. It may be interpersonal, may be quality safety, it may be operational, may be anything, and rather than get frustrated by it, you almost have to plan for it, because if you're on a rare day when something like this doesn't happen, there's actually still plenty for you to do.

Brian Harte, MD: That there is.

Brian Bolwell, MD: A ton of great insight here, Brian. As we're wrapping up, anything you'd like to leave our audience with, in terms of your overall leadership philosophy, what you've learned, what you think are the most important things, or anything?

Brian Harte, MD: I just really appreciate the chance to share my experience. Whenever I've had the chance to do this in a live audience, kind of the feedback and perspectives I get back have always been beneficial to me, so Brian, I just really appreciate the chance to do this, to do this podcast.

I think at the end of the day, what I've... I think it's important to use the old adage of The Oracle at Delphi, to know yourself, know thyself. What I've learned most about myself, maybe as a leader per se, is that what I look for is the opportunity to create. We've talked about relationships, we've talked about conflict, and prioritization, and failure, but I should say in addition to that, I think what I would encourage everyone to do is to recognize that when opportunities come along, to decide if you want to take advantage of them, to look out for that sense of comfort that may hold you back unnecessarily from a big step that you might otherwise be willing to take, and then I think as I said, most importantly, look for the opportunity to create, both from the standpoint of improving your organization or improving the world that you live and work in, and to bring people together in ways that maybe they haven't before, because those are things that you'll carry with you for the rest of your professional career.

Brian Bolwell, MD: Brian, that's another great piece of advice and insight. Thank you so much. To our listeners, I would just say this. This has been a somewhat special podcast, because there's an awful lot of really good stuff here, and I would encourage you guys to listen to this at least once, and preferably more, because a lot of very insightful things that Dr. Harte has shared with us, so Brian, thank you very much. Everybody, thanks for listening and have a wonderful day.

This concludes this episode of Beyond Leadership. You can find additional podcast episodes on our website,, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. We welcome any topic ideas you may have for future episodes, comments and questions about this or any past episode. You can let us know by emailing us at [email protected]

Beyond Leadership
Beyond Leadership VIEW ALL EPISODES

Beyond Leadership

Host Dr. Brian Bolwell escorts you through a network of thought leaders, sharing world-class insight on leadership and cutting-edge hospital management approaches. They will inspire and perhaps compel you to reinvent your practices – and yourself.

Developed and managed by Cleveland Clinic Global Executive Education.

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