Growing leaders and your career

12 Dec 2014

Healthcare leaders at all levels have two jobs: Do your job well; Do it better in the future. And, CEO’s have one role that only they can fulfil in creating the environment and the opportunities. Geraint Martin, CEO, Counties Manukau District Health Board speaks with Christine O’Donnell.

What do you look for in recruiting leaders to your organisation?
When recruiting leaders, more than anything it’s about the value and the sense of why they are in healthcare. What I look for is the passion and the hunger for the business of health. Secondly, someone whose got an enquiring and challenging mind. And somebody who has a drive, a real burning ambition to have an impact on the world around them. In my organisation I see incredibly passionate people who joined to make a difference. That’s why they went into healthcare in the first place.

What we have done is create health systems that are so incredibly complex that it crushes out of people the reason why they joined healthcare in the first place. What I’m about  is getting that sense of value, compassion, joy, fun out of people. Creativity is what you call it. As CEO, when you boil it all down, there’s only one thing I can do better than anyone else and that is that I create the environment and opportunities for people to do things differently and do things better. Create the conditions while they take the opportunity.
How do we grow our emerging leaders?
It doesn’t happen by accident. You’ve got to spend time and effort to do that. At Counties Manukau we’ve established Ko Awatea, the Centre for Healthcare Innovation, Improvement and Development. Equipping our leaders and managers with the skills they need to have in order to make change happen. The skills they need are very different. People in my organisation have two jobs: Know how to do it well, but also know how to do it better tomorrow.

We need to give people the sense of ownership to do that, but also the skills to put that into place. It’s a deliberate act. It’s something we built up over months and years as part of the culture of this organisation. What we are doing at Counties is working. It’s not a complete job and there are lots of ways we can improve . We’ve set ourselves the objective by the end of the new year to demonstrate against 15 key measures that we are the best healthcare system in Australasia. One of them is our standardised hospital mortality rate. Which demonstrates how safe are you. Middlemore Hospital provides healthcare to 500,000 people, often quite ill, quite poor. Our hospital standard mortality rate is only 83. The average is 100. The international standard is 77. We have a relentless focus on quality improvement. We now have 95% of our patients through the Emergency Department (ED) in less than six hours, despite the fact that this is the largest ED in Australasia with a massive amount of growth.
What advice have you got for leaders about their career?
Spend a number of years getting the basics right and learning the trade. There is no such thing as an instant route into management roles. The main thing is to give yourself the basics in groundings of management and leadership. There’s no substitute for that. Once you have demonstrated you can do it, let your passion rip.

The best advice I got was when I had been a CEO for a number of years and it was time to move to the next CEO role was once you have been a leader and can demonstrate you can do it, you should do something that really inspires and drives you. Put your skills into something really exciting and motivating. So the best advice I can give is get a good grounding; get a good academic base – that’s very, very important. And not just an MBA, but a masters in healthcare management for example. A good academic base, enquiring and inquisitive mind and find your passion. You know the saying – find something you are passionate about and you’ll never work a day in your life. Change jobs often,  think about what sustains you? Because being a leader in an organisation is lonely at times, exciting at times. It’s demanding and exhausting. Theres got to be a reason you want to do it other than money and position, otherwise you’ll burn out or become cynical.

Ms Christine O’Donnell, Executive Dirctor, HardyGroup Search and Recruitment
Read Christine’s profile:

Mr Geraint Martin, CEO, Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB)

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government. He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham. He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand. In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance.CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea, the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia. In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance.

Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University. His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy. He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington

Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University. He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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