Recently, Leadership Health Care (LHC) members attended an executive briefing with Bill Carpenter, former chairman and CEO of LifePoint Health. Carpenter retired from his role at LifePoint in November 2018, following the completion of the company’s merger with RCCH Healthcare Partners and its transition as a privately held company. The discussion, moderated by Hayley Hovious, president of the Nashville Health Care Council, touched on a wide-range of topics including the role of a CEO, the importance of culture in an organization and some key leadership advice.
In talking about the role of a CEO, Carpenter highlighted three core components that he believes are true no matter the organization.
“The CEO of any organization has three jobs,” said Carpenter. “Those jobs are: 1) to set the tone for the organization, which means establishing the organization’s culture; 2) to set the strategic direction for the organization and making sure appropriate goals are in place to achieve that strategic direction; and 3) to make sure the right people are in place and the organization has a succession plan.”
Carpenter spent time focusing on the importance of every organization having a succession plan, something LifePoint learned the hard way when it lost two CEOs in the first years after the organization was founded.
“We lost our founding CEO, Scott Mercy, in a plane crash only a year after LifePoint had been in existence. And almost one year from that date, we lost our second CEO, Jim Fleetwood, to a heart attack,” said Carpenter. “We didn’t really have any sort of succession planning in place at that point, so it became something really intentional for us moving forward. I encourage every organization to really take a close look at their succession planning and make it something you review every year.”
Another theme throughout the discussion was the importance Carpenter places on culture, and the role culture plays in an organization’s success.
“You spend more time at work than you do at home, so it has to be something that you care about; something that you love,” said Carpenter. “If it’s not a good place to work, you need to leave. At LifePoint, we were always a mission driven organization. We had a vision of creating places where people want to come for care, physicians want to practice medicine and people want to work. Our organizational culture was built around our mission and vision.”
Finally, Carpenter also shared some practical advice about what it takes to become a leader within an organization.
“There are three key pieces of advice I would give when it comes to leading,” said Carpenter. “First, say yes when you’re asked to take a role, even if it’s not your first choice. If someone asks you to do something, they’ve decided that it’s good for the organization, so embrace whatever it is and take the opportunity to exceed expectations. Second, under promise and over deliver. Being a great leader is always about managing expectations. Finally, never surprise your boss. No matter what role you’re in or what title you have, you always have a boss. Keep them informed.”
This executive briefing was part of ongoing programming for the Council’s Leadership Health Care (LHC) initiative, offering members insight from national industry leaders in an interactive setting. For more information about LHC, visit www.leadershiphealthcare.com.