The Wedding Toast: Lessons in Leadership from Love

By Dr. Michael J. Zappa

Recently, I had the opportunity to share the joy and intense emotions of giving away my daughter in marriage. At this extraordinary event, I had the fatherly privilege of making the welcome toast. Reflecting on these thoughts in the days that have passed, I realize that these principles and practices that guide us toward happy and healthier relationships are key traits that great leaders exhibit. Please indulge me in the following excerpt from that toast I gave at the wedding of my daughter Francesca to her husband Matthew.

 

One of the privileges of being the Dad of a little girl is that she sits on your lap and you have little talks from time to time. One I remember in particular is when her mother was out shopping, because that’s what she did when Daddy and daughter spent time together, Francesca looks me in the eyes and says: “Daddy when I grow up I want to marry you” ….. I had to politely explain to her that Mommy wouldn’t like that too much!  She then went on to say: “How will I ever find the right person to marry?” I said: “Honey, when you fall in love and if that person treats you as well as I do, then he’s the one.” Matthew you’ve passed that test.

So I can’t leave without a little advice for Francesca and Matthew…..You are starting your life together, what’s the most important thing? The most important thing is LOVE….that’s a great word but there are a lot of things that go into it. For my colleagues in medicine, you know we have to make acronyms out of everything to help us remember….

Read More
Meet the Mother of Strategy: Hope

By Dr. Michael J. Zappa

A mentor of mine is often quoted: "Hope is not a strategy!" Indeed, there is a world of difference between hoping things will improve and implementing a well thought out plan. However, nothing can ever change or improve unless we can imagine it as such. Once it is imagined, there must be some belief or "hope" that this vision can be realized. Now that's where strategy comes in, making the vision a reality.

As leaders, we must start by inspiring hope, not by asking for the action plan. When your team believes they can make a difference, they will. It is very obvious in healthcare: patients would never come to us without the hope that we can make them better. Hope is not just for our patients, it is for every member of our team.

Read More
Working Naked

By Michael J. Zappa

The human body is the most brilliant machine ever created and the quintessential work of art.  The headline above is not referring to your creativity and accomplishments in your clothing optional private abode; it is taking literary license from 19th century Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. 

Reflect on the fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes.  The Emperor (leader) was a vain man, concerned more with appearances, accolades, and maintaining his current position than the harsh realities that others faced.  His subjects were afraid to express their honest opinions to him, fearing they might be deemed unfit for their position or even stupid.  The climax of this tale occurs when he is fooled by some weavers into wearing a “spectacular new suit” that, in fact, doesn’t exist at all.  The Emperor is allowed to parade through the town naked.  Finally, a mere child blurts out in honesty that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all.

Leaders at all levels of an organization run the risk of being caught naked at work, but this risk increases as one ascends the ranks.  People see pleasing their boss as important, essential to keeping their jobs.  Most leaders would proclaim they are wise enough to detect blatant deception, but it is often more subtle than that.  Very often what happens is filtering; direct reports present the info that makes them look good and their boss is expecting.  This filtering of information is equivalent to a slight degree of course variation which becomes obvious 100 miles or more into the journey.

Read More
The Pursuit of Balance

By Dr. Michael J. Zappa

Long term success in life is rarely achieved by perpetual crisis management and the ability to work around the clock to meet a deadline…not that great leaders and successful individuals don’t have that ability and need to deploy it from time to time! One of the keys to sustained success is balance. Balance should not be viewed as a goal that is attained; rather a dynamic state in need of frequent adjustment…like a see-saw.

Read More
Joy in Leaders = Joy in Work

By Dr. Michael J. Zappa

Focusing on joy, especially in work, is guiding momentum. It has my attention as I study it, it is clear to me that the mindset and habits are exactly what great leaders have and do and what developing leaders should concentrate on.

It is very tempting for any leader, especially those in healthcare, to focus on what’s wrong, what needs to be fixed. It’s time to view the situation through a different lens…we need to focus on the meaning and purpose of our work. This is a distinct advantage for those of us in healthcare, our mission is making peoples lives better. Joy is not in things, it is in US. IHI describes pride in workmanship as a fundamental right; having the connection to meaning and purpose promotes such pride and is the basis of joy.

Read More
Recap of Becker's Panel Discussion on April 4

By Dr. Michael J. Zappa

On April 4th, I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion with Dennis Jolley, Vi-Anne Antrum, and Alan Lieber centering around the challenge of being a comprehensive hospital system vs one that is specialty focused. Alexis Reynolds did a wonderful job moderating a very thought provoking discussion.

It is no surprise that there is not a simple direct answer; the most accurate answer is it depends. It depends on your location, your competition, your resources, and degree of integration.

Read More
Influencing Your Team: 10 Leadership Traits that Drive the Ability to Influence Teams

By Dr. Michael J. Zappa

There is not a single leader who will not publicly state that he/she could not do their job without their them. However, as humans, I’d bet that most of them, in a moment of frustration ,have thought “it would be easier if I just did it myself.” Why? Because influencing people is a gradual process, not simply a decision with immediate results.

Accepting the reality that no matter how brilliant or hard-working you are, you will always need your team which means you need to learn how to influence them.

Master the following attributes and you will be well on your way.

Read More
Becker's 10th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with Michael Zappa, President of Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital

(Re-posted from Becker’s Hospital Review, published March 13, 2019.)

Michael Zappa, MD, FACEP, serves as President of Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Acute Care Services for Cape Fear Valley Health System.

On April 4th, Dr, Zappa will speak at Becker's Hospital Review 10th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place April 1-4, 2019 in Chicago.

Read More
Developing leaders must navigate the hallway of hell

Enhancing our own leadership development along with the novice and advanced leaders on our teams is mission critical in healthcare today. The environment that we are challenged to be successful in is very harsh — increasing the cost of technology and pharmaceuticals, the ever increasing cost of labor, on top of declining reimbursement.

The formula for success appears simple enough, but the challenge (as always) is the execution. Clearly, educating leaders and enhancing their skills will yield great outcomes; yet the material that must be mastered is not intuitive, and the skills must be practiced over and over to be mastered.

Read More