For this month’s column I sat down with Chris York and Keith Nichols, leaders at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, a longtime chamber member. As you might predict with a faith-based organization, key values are firmly embedded in the culture at the hospital. Keith and Chris explained that three core values influence all leadership decisions: (1) love one another, (2) welcome feedback as a precious gift, and (3) lead change.
The “love one another” value expansively includes love for teammates, colleagues, patients, families, visitors and the community in general. By pouring love, respect, dignity and compassion into the care team, leaders like Chris and Keith are able to encourage those team members to show compassion and empathy to all patients. By offering exceptional, compassionate, and low cost care, the team shows love to patients and their families. By planning soundly and delivering a level of care that causes patients from all over the region to travel to Ellis County for their care, the hospital is able to bless the community through contributions to local schools, nonprofits and other worthy causes. As a reminder of his commitment, hanging in Chris’s office is the Vince Lomardi quote: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” All team members at Baylor Scott & White are coached to be “infuriated by mediocrity in the building.”
Loving others seems intuitive, but the second value Chris shared gave me pause. Feedback is tough for many of us to swallow, so “welcoming it as a precious gift” seems unlikely. But as leaders, Chris and Keith insist that they cannot get defensive or deflect criticisms. Instead, they allow it to marinate until they see the opportunities for improvement highlighted. This openness to feedback allows the executive team to demonstrate the third core value – leading change.
Leading change at Baylor Scott & White builds on the foundation of the core values, like finding new and better ways to turn a terrible event in someone’s life into a blessing by chasing perfection at the bedside. That focus on the patient in front of you, rather than worrying about competition, is how Baylor stays at the top of countless national rankings. As Chris explains, “When you get distracted by someone else’s success, you’ve already lost.” Well-versed in the advice of highly-regarded leaders, Chris quotes FDR: “A high tide raises all boats.”
We are fortunate as chamber members to spend time with people (often competitors) who support, encourage, and love one another so that we can all enjoy success. And we, too, can lead change by welcoming feedback as a precious gift for ourselves, our businesses, and our Chamber. We might not achieve Baylor Scott & White’s goal of “showing the same enthusiasm for feedback that a kid has for the presents under the Christmas tree,” but we can chase perfection nonetheless. Thank you to everyone who has given us valuable feedback to guide our strategic vision as a Chamber as we try to serve as the high tide for one another.