Podcast | Dr. Tyler Hill Talks Authentic Leadership

May 12, 2024 | Articles, Leadership, Podcast

Moderated by Michael O’Connell

CAHL strives to offer thought-provoking insights and perspectives from healthcare leaders in its geography.  Today, we will be speaking with Dr Tyler Hill.  He is the chief medical officer at CommonSpirit’s Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley, California.  He joined CAHL in 2022 and continues to work in the Emergency Room department.  

This Q&A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. Listen to the full interview here. 

CAHL/Mr. O’Connell:  We’re here to discuss health care leadership.  We’d like to know what it means to be an authentic leader.  How do you define authenticity in the context of healthcare leadership particularly as a physician and why do you think it’s important?

Dr. Hill:  It’sI think authenticity, especially when we are talking in the realm of healthcare and leadership, is knowing exactly who you are and what your personal values are and not deviating from them.  It’s about being confident in those things.  To me when you’re confident, it allows authenticity, it allows humility to be that much more natural and easy for you.

CAHL:  So give me an example, either when you were in Ohio or here in California, where you were able to bring your authenticity to the forefront, where maybe you felt people wanted you to compromise your authenticity and you weren’t going to do that.  Share with us, a personal example of that.

Dr. Hill:  Yeah, I look back to the pandemic for a lot of my leadership lessons and the challenges that came with that as .  The pandemic for me, especially being an emergency department leader, was a daily example of all of these things we are talking about.   For me, it was about remaining calm – with my communication style, while I was under the most intense stress I’ve ever been in my life, and really helping manage my team’s emotions through that.

CAHL:  I’ve worked at some large health systems that have been very focused on quality and safety, to be able to stand up and speak out when they see something that isn’t right but then have that fear that speaking up may get you fired.  How do you think that as people want to be true to themselves as well as be an authentic leader, how do you think this resonates for individuals that are wanting to change the status quo and really want to work on improving quality and safety in many of the things that reliable organizations are striving to do today?

Dr. Hill:  It really comes down to creating a psychologically safe culture.  A work environment that places those pieces at the forefront.  You mentioned quality and safety…, as a chief medical officer, I worked closely with the quality and safety teams and being a High Reliability Organization (HRO), those are critical aspects of engaging individuals to speak up whenever they see something that is of concern.  We do various things to highlight that and speaking up is important to us.

CAHL:  You’ve talked about having responsibility and overseeing quality and safety, knowing that is everyone’s job.  As you look at an industry that is constantly changing, how do you stay true to your leadership style while adapting to all these evolving healthcare landscapes?  There is not a healthcare organization that is not talking about significant changes that they’re going through post-pandemic.  How do you remain authentic with some of the changes that you may not even agree with?

Dr. Hill:  I love this question and to me, this is probably the most exciting part of leadership.  We were talking about core components of who you are as a leader and to me, I have my foundation of qualities that I absolutely identify as bedrock of who I am, what I stand for and who I am as a leader and those won’t change.  Those lasted through the pandemic, they’ll last through any storm, through challenges and even as the healthcare landscape continues to evolve.  But, there is this balancing with the need to be flexible, keeping an open mind, thinking creatively.  This is what is fun about leadership and healthcare.  This is my opinion, but I believe healthcare is the most difficult industry in which to be a leader, especially coming down from the hills of the pandemic. 

Michael O’Connell, MHA, FACMPE, FACHE, CAHL , past CAHL president.  Mr. O’Connell provides team-based leadership and oversight to strategic operational initiatives in both medical practice and hospital operations. He has over 35 years of experience in the healthcare industry, serving in various executive roles at RWJBarnabas Health, Stanford Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, and other leading organizations.