An Interview with Mary Koloroutis CEO Creative Health Care Management 

Mary has been instrumental in the creation of numerous highly successful programs, including g Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring, adopted by leading health care systems worldwide. She is a co-creator, author, and editor of the Relationship-Based Care series of books and workshops. Her belief in the importance of patient-clinician attunement led to the development of the See Me as a Person workshop and book co-created with psychologist Michael Trout. Most recently, Mary is a contributing author and co-editor of the ACHE Book of the Year, Advancing Relationship-Based Cultures.
With Ann Flanagan-Petry  

Ann Flanagan-Petry: You have been a leader in health care for some time, and you describe your role as CEO of CHCM as leading a team of leaders. Your experience as CEO provides you with a unique vantage point to see what skills and abilities are necessary to lead today. What would you tell others about what you’ve learned about leadership along the way?

Mary Koloroutis: At CHCM, we have been developing leaders and helping our clients develop leaders and build engagement through a time-tested program called Leading an Empowered Organization (LEO). We have trained over 200,000 leaders around the world in this program. It is highly regarded in the industry because participants get the
practical, actionable leadership skills necessary to engage teams of people. You learn how to cultivate a shared vision and commitment to excellence in care and service. This is not just something we talk about at CHCM. We live it within our own culture.  Most people in health care understand that effective leadership is more important than
ever, and the data provide striking evidence for any skeptics. For example, there is a direct correlation between leader performance and engagement. Gallup recently reported:

• 80% of employees with poor manager relationship are disengaged
• 70% of employees lacking confidence in senior leadership are not fully engaged
• 50% of adults surveyed left a job “to get away from their manager”

AFP: Speaking of data, there are plenty of leadership development assessments in the marketplace, but you decided it was important to create an assessment that measures
how leaders empower others and cultivate cultures of high caring and compassion. This is unique.

MK: Yes, we believe that it is important to measure what matters most, and all the research points to the singular importance of high-quality relational skills—and particularly the importance of how you communicate expectations and develop your direct reports. These abilities are key to strong leadership. We know from working with LEO for over 35 years, that LEO skills and practices make a difference, so we decided to create an instrument to measure these skills. We believe this assessment is a gamechanger for health care leader development. The assessment tool is called Leadership Insights 360 or LI-360™.

LI-360™ benefits include:
• Measures of leader behavior
• Collects and reports meaningful feedback for use in reflections and discussions about leadership
• Allows organizations to tailor coaching and mentoring to develop specific leader abilities
• Catalyst for better leader-employee relationships
• Support leaders in cultivating work cultures in which people flourish as individuals and as teams

The LEO educational program provides a toolkit for employee ownership through an understanding of Responsibility, Authority, and Accountability or R+A+A. This simple, yet potent formula has proven to be highly effective in cultivating cultures of high commitment and high trust through clearly articulated expectations and acceptance of responsibility. The LI-360™ measures perceptions of whether individuals are applying R+A+A skills and knowledge in their leadership practice. Furthermore, it identifies areas of strength and areas for further development.

AFP: In early testing of the LI-360™ what are you discovering?

MK: We are finding that the LEO/ LI-360™ provides a powerful combination of leadership development along with an assessment tool for actionable feedback. This enables leaders to zoom in on opportunities for targeted and impactful skill building.

The LI-360™ assesses perceptions pertaining to:
• Building relationships (12 items)
• Establishing expectations and responsibilities (8 items)
• Developing human capacity (10 items)
• Leading change and continuous improvement (7 items)
• Fostering a commitment to high quality and compassionate care (10 items)

The assessment itself is highly developmental. It teaches and reinforces the LEO principles as it assesses perceptions of how leadership is actualized for individuals and
within the organization as a whole.

AFP: You have been working with some of the highest performing health care systems across the country. How has this informed the way you train and assess leaders?

MK: What I see when I look across the systems that are thriving, as measured by HCAHPS, they also score high in employee engagement, quality, safety, and fiscal health. Obviously, all of these outcomes are delivered by people working in relationships with each other, so it’s no mystery that better relationships are foundational to better outcomes. The best organizations are tapping into the power of human connection. Organizations comprise structures, processes, and people in relationship with other people. They are (wisely) seeing the lion’s share of the work of improving organizations as the work of improving relationships.

We see strong organizations creating cultures in which staff members can be at their best all the time. This noble aim is impossible without skilled leadership at all levels. LEO and the LI-360™ help ensure that an organization is staffed with leaders who understand the fundamentals of effective leadership and are driven to create a work culture for high performing teams to provide the best possible patient care.