Among today’s leaders in healthcare, few health system executives have the fortitude and patience to stand by a long-term investment until it pays dividends. CommonSpirit Health CEO Lloyd Dean, who announced that he is retiring in 2022, is someone whom we should all aspire to model.
While his accomplishments are too numerous to list, his devotion to improving equitable access to care is unwavering. At this crucial time for health equity, does Dean’s retirement this year pose a risk for the success of this movement? I’m confident it does not. The once-in-a-generation leadership demonstrated by Dean cannot end with his tenure at a single company. Together, we must look to his example to inspire companies, industries, and multiple generations to take up the common cause in pursuit of health equity.
Healthcare Leaders Playing the Long Game
Intergenerational leaders like Dean act with the future in mind. Putting aside short-term gains, they focus on creating a culture and community of inclusiveness and adaptation. They are passionate stewards of resources, sharers of knowledge, and guardians of organizational values.
Characteristics of intergenerational leadership include:
- A strong focus on the “why” of the organization, as embodied in its mission and values.
- Comfort investing in future-facing solutions that don’t reap immediate ROI.
- A commitment to mentoring and nurturing the next generation of leaders.
- Desire to leave a lasting impact and personal legacy.
A truly intergenerational leader works to unite Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z in a common cause that lays a strong foundation for generational continuity.
An Open Door to Healthcare Equity
Today, the need for intergenerational leadership in our industry has never been greater.
The pandemic made healthcare worse for everyone but especially for communities of color. In less than two years, COVID-19 has killed one in 500 Americans, one in 240 Native Americans, one in 390 Hispanics, and one in 480 Blacks. These disparities shed light on decades of systemic discrimination and has created an imperative for healthcare executives to lead in more just and inclusive ways.
As any good CEO knows, disruption always travels hand in hand with opportunity. Today’s healthcare leaders have a once-in-a-century window to reimagine, reinvent, and rebuild healthcare. Our mandate is to renovate in sustainable ways that align with our values of healing and service.