An example of the power of relationship building at the CEO level comes from the late Stan Nelson, former Chief Executive Officer of Henry Ford Health System, and a member of the Healthcare Hall of Fame. Stan was a great mentor, business partner and friend of mine.
In the 1970’s he developed numerous relationships with CEOs. Stan was always a believer that he and his organization could benefit by sharing ideas with peers from other healthcare organizations across the country. Stan teamed up with three other CEOs and formed the nucleus of a 30 member hospital consortium. Stan was appointed CEO of the group.
The idea was to get leading hospitals in many markets to work together on things they couldn’t do on their own. Today, that organization is widely known in healthcare circles as VHA. VHA is a national network of not-for-profit healthcare organizations working together to improve performance and efficiency in clinical, financial and operational management. VHA has grown to more than 5,000 health system members and affiliates, representing more than a quarter of the nation’s hospitals. They delivered $2.2 billion in savings and additional value to members.
Stan retired from hospital administration in the early 1990’s and created what is now known as the Scottsdale Institute (SI). SI is an association of more than 50 leading healthcare organizations who share knowledge that will help them improve healthcare through information management.
Stan was a master at building relationships and making an impact on an entire industry – the largest one in the country!
Chief Information Officer (CIOs) Success Factors
I went into Information Technology so I wouldn’t have to deal with people.”
– Leading Chief Information Officer
This is an actual quote from a highly successful CIO of a multi-billion dollar company. Of course, he was kidding when he told me this, but there was a grain of truth in the statement. Early in his career, he started as a shy programmer. Now he is a master at dealing with people. He cites how important it has been for him to work well with others and to forge key relationships with everyone from his staff to senior leadership.
The healthcare industry has a group called the College of Chief Information Management Executives (CHIME). CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and healthcare in the communities they serve.
Several years ago CHIME identified and published seven success factors for CIOs. Here is one of them:
“Develops and maintains networks with internal and external sources and links networks for greater exposure. Builds community to sustain networks by sharing knowledge and power in the marketplace.”
– College of Health Information Management of Executives (CHIME)
The Top CIOs have outstanding brands, partly because they forge excellent relationships. It’s also interesting that CHIME says CIO’s share knowledge and power in the marketplace, rather than hoarding it. They help each other, which leads me to the next point.
The Best Way to Build Relationships
So how do you build relationships? Think about these questions:
- List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
- Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
- Who has made you feel appreciated and special?
- Who has helped you succeed in your career?
- Who has given you encouragement, knowledge or wisdom?
Although some you may no longer be in contact with, such as former teachers, if they came to you for help, you would likely be glad to do so. The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. It is those who have helped you. And it is by helping others that you build relationships and your own personal brand.
“If you love and serve man, you cannot by any hiding or stratagem escape remuneration.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson