This episode offers a featured conversation with Dr. Jeff Thompson, a pediatrician, author, sought-after speaker, and CEO Emeritus of Gundersen Health System in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Dr. Thompson is author of the recently published book Lead True and his perspective shines throughout the book: when others are afraid of the risk, the timing, or the possible failure, true leaders step forward to meet a need.
As most listeners know, healthcare systems often represent the largest, most complex nonprofit organizations – perhaps second only to colleges and universities.
During his successful CEO tenure at Gundersen, Dr. Thompson not only improved health outcomes but also used hospital resources to serve as a catalyst for rebuilding the surrounding community, helped patients die with dignity (even though it wasn’t in the organization’s financial best interest), and become a green organization while dramatically curtailing the rising cost of providing healthcare.
And he did all this while protecting the financial well-being of hospital employees, patients, and the community. True to his ethos, Dr. Thompson is donating his proceeds from this book to the Gundersen Foundation Leadership Development Fund!
Dr. Jeff Thompson's Home Page
Forbes Magazine Article: Who Would Spend $3 Trillion Without a Goal
A few time-stamped highlights from our conversation included:
(4:11) The difference between respect for employees and reverence for employees
(6:10) How to maintain a sense of reverence when your organization’s financial position is weak and strained
(9:58) How to convince your board to support long-term growth strategies during crisis
(14:15) How to deal with staff who are going to war with each other instead of working together to achieve the mission
(17:03) The importance of quickly addressing behavior and performance issues with upper management.
(18:20) Using HR to stop be a people-buildter instead of a rules police.
(21:10) How to challenge the employee who’s performance is “just good enough” but is cruising along at 80% of their potential.
(24:20) Why leaders need “durability” in order to succeed
(28:03) How leaders can make better decisions during times of great difficulty
(31:20) A real life example of “making the right decision” even though it would decrease revenue
(42:09) Why your nonprofit organization should consider taking your fund balance out of savings to invest in green initiatives, local businesses, and partner nonprofits.
(48:43) The value of “learning journeys” to educate and build your board.
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