Trust: Establish the Engine of Leadership
At the end of the day it's probably the only thing that matters in any organization. Whether it's your family or your work, trust is the engine of a great life.
—Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks
In an interview in May 2011, Paul Hiltz, who is now president of Mercy Health Select, told me about when he became CEO of Mercy Hospital Mt. Airy in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2007.1 He was the fifth person to hold that position in less than six years. At that time, the hospital was struggling with serious issues, from financial to employee engagement and retention, and he had been brought in to help it change course. One thing that stood out to him was the skepticism that the employees had: “. . . There wasn't a whole lot of trust, I don't think, that I would be here, that I would be committed to fixing what needed to be fixed.” The hospital employees were tired from the “tons of change” the hospital was already going through, he said, and the financial pressures didn't help. A “sort of sense of hopelessness” pervaded the organization, and a “palpable” fear that closure might be in their future—meaning employees would lose their jobs.
Hiltz was there to help turn the hospital around. He immediately tried to allay fears by assuring the employees that he did not have a “slash and burn” strategy in mind and instead wanted to rebuild around the things that were working. He made it clear at the beginning of his tenure that his approach ...