275: Revitalizing Healthcare Leadership and Engagement, with Lara Burnside

August 15, 2023

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Dr. Pelè: 

Hello happy people, welcome to the Profitable Happiness Podcast. Hello everyone, this is Dr. Pelè with the Profitable Happiness Podcast, and today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Lara Burnside, who is an executive leadership coach, an international speaker, a chief experience officer and the leader of CSE, which is Coaching, supporting and Engaging People. I love that title. By the way, CSE is your company. It's a pleasure to have you here, lara. How are you today?

Lara Burnside: 

Thank you so much. I'm wonderful, thank you, and it's a pleasure to be here with you.

Dr. Pelè: 

Thank you for having me Awesome. Now, one of the things I always like to start with, especially when I'm talking with executive coaches and leadership coaches, because that's also my background is I want to learn something I want to learn from your unique viewpoint about the challenges that are out there. What are we dealing with? When we go to these organizations and they've got something going on, something wrong, and we have to be the providers of a solution? What are you seeing? How would you describe the challenge in the organizations today?

Lara Burnside: 

Yeah. So what we're finding at CSE leadership is that healthcare leaders and physicians are coming to us to reignite their passion and compassion and be able to develop their skills in a way that allows their people to be the best that they can be, but also connect back to the reason that they went into healthcare in the first place and allow organizations and individuals to achieve their best outcomes, and that has never been more important than it is today. We're seeing every metric when it comes to physicians. According to research that was done in a survey by the AMA last fall, every one of those metrics is going in the wrong direction. So, whether it has to do with burnout rates going through the roof and increasing exponentially over the course of the last 12 months, or turnover rates, or depression rates, or work-life integration rates you name it, every metric is going in the wrong direction, and I feel a personal responsibility to take what I have learned over the course of a 25-year career, typically in healthcare, but I find it incredibly necessary to take what I have learned over the course of 25 years and give back. At the end of the day, I mean, all of us are, in my opinion, responsible and required to be able to share the gifts that we've been given and allow and help people to become everything that they want to be and the best that they can be, so we can continue to serve each other.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, I have to agree with you. Every metric, as you've explained, is going south and I wonder if it's the unique environment of healthcare, the sort of high stress, high requirement for patient satisfaction. I mean, it's not just that a customer is happy, A customer stays alive if you do a good job. Give us a sense, lara, of how you came to personally be involved in this particular healthcare focus and with this idea of maybe helping organizations do better in that field. How did you get here? What's your story?

Lara Burnside: 

Yeah. So back in the mid-90s I got really lucky and I met a woman who had a desire to change the way that caregivers provided care, and the background is her mother was in the hospital and this woman that I met was so appalled by the treatment and the care that her mom received. She decided she was going to do something different and she created a business that had to do with making sure that we had the right people in the right places, that they were trained appropriately and that they were focused on doing everything that they could in a really human-centered way. And so I got really lucky early on in my career, and at the time I was living in Florida, where I spent about 20 years and had an opportunity to really help her grow and develop the central Florida region for her business, and we were quite successful in doing this, and I became really tuned in to how do you help not just the patient to receive a better experience when they're in the healthcare facility, but there's the flip side of that, which is those who are passionate and compassionate and have the calling to walk through the doors and serve anyone who is in a really vulnerable position, because you know, let's face it. Nobody decides one morning like, oh, going to the hospital sounds like a great idea today, or I think I'd like to go to a doctor's appointment and let's throw in a colonoscopy with it and we'll just have a break. Nobody wakes up and thinks that. So what we know is our patients and their families come into our facilities generally in a super anxious way. They're confused, they're scared, they're frustrated and they really have kind of two things in mind. One is is there a diagnosis for this? And secondly, is there a cure? And that's a really hard space. Now you bring in a caregiver who has their own family life and their own things going on, and there's a whole support mechanism that is when done well is in place to support our care teams in a way that allows them to want to come back every day, but also to want to do their very best when they walk through our doors.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah.

Lara Burnside: 

Well, I learned that early on Now, almost, you know, a long time ago, right like long ago. Now, when I look at it, I think, oh my goodness, I could be people's mother that are just starting in healthcare. but this is where we are in life and and so so I continued that and I began working at for a consulting firm a few years after, after this encounter with this, this really wonderful woman that I met, and and began consulting with healthcare organizations around the country. I've been in a couple a hundred of them over the years, from north to southeast to west, big little everything in between, and I just found that my Desire and my heart is in giving back in the way that I can, and that is helping people feel inspired to want to come back again tomorrow.

Dr. Pelè: 

Wow, what a story and, and you know, what a path in terms of Really knowing your customer. I think that the healthcare field and we talked about the fact that we share that background a little bit as well I think the healthcare field is unique. This is not just you know, please, your customer. This is sometimes life and and death, and having a compassionate approach to developing leaders and and developing you know, capabilities and skills is a must. It's just it's. It's so powerful. Let's, let's talk about how, because I think we're. I'm enjoying the idea that we're gonna have to spell out for people that there's a difference. Sometimes the healthcare field is actually quite unique, but let's talk about how you go about helping people leaders or employees in the healthcare field. How do you go about helping them to, you know, embrace, finding success in in their, in their jobs?

Lara Burnside: 

Yeah. So at CSE leadership, my business partner and I decided we wanted to do something a little bit different. And we want to create not a cookie cutter approach to this, but rather a really tailored, individualized approach, depending on the organization that we're working with and what their cultural situation is, you know, and what who they are, you know. Let's face it, some organizations are very serious and and more stoic, and some are not, and so you have to find the right approach to be able to fit the mold of who they are and leverage their strengths in order to be able to Help them be their best. With that being said, though, there are certain things that we do. So the first thing is to really go in and understand who they are as an organization. So we, we actually provide assessments, so we do an organizational and individual assessments, and we use a normative tool when it comes to the individual, on just work style. So what is your work style? So that we can look at it from the team perspective as well as the individual and identify where things might be really easy and Identify where things might be more challenging, and that allows us to be able to help with the coaching side of that. So we have a collective team approach, and what does that look like? So, for instance, if you have an organization who has, you know, very strong Sociability, for instance, that might be very easy for them to be able to go out and talk with people and chit chat and that sort of thing, whereas if you have an organization who doesn't have that high of Sociability among their team, you realize like, okay, then we need to build a framework in place so that it makes it easier for them to be able to be Visible, go out and do things among their team members, because, let's face it, at the end of the day, people want to connect with those that they work with and they want to put their boss. They don't want to feel like I don't belong anywhere. You know, the whole point of Employment and successful employment and feeling good about where you work is that I'm connected to people and I have relationships that matter right.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, yeah, I.

Lara Burnside: 

We do this full assessment so that we can really understand the team, especially the leadership team as a whole. We do the same thing with our physician leaders so that we can understand, as a medical director here's what might be in play, so that we can help leverage the strengths and look for any gaps that might be there. And then, tactically and technically, what can we do to help build those. That's the first step. We look at KPIs and goals and all of those things and put together an organizational assessment as well. Then we look at all of the data and all of the information that has come through and we begin to build a plan with that leadership team, with the ideal ultimate goal that whatever we put in play can actually be repeated and sustained long after we're not there. There's an important element to this right now that it's not about it being all about me or all about my business partner. It is about us coming in there and helping to coach and support and engage. Hence CSE. What we do is in our name, but we want to help, coach, support and engage people at their highest levels so that they can be what they need to be. Then the last stage is what we call forward, and that's what do you need to do as you go forward into sustainability, accountability, accessibility for people to be able to continue to do the work, much like I said, long after we're no longer on site.

Dr. Pelè: 

Powerful stuff. I was just about to write another acronym Sustainability, accountability and I was like no, that doesn't go with CSE. It's a little different. That's like a little masterclass right there on how to successfully build a case for coaching and coaching that lasts longer than just the time that you spent there. I'm curious about the organizational assessment that you talked about. I think a lot of people. First, let me ask you when you talk about an organizational assessment, do you actually assess and interview several different stakeholders, or is it just the leadership team?

Lara Burnside: 

No, we actually do assess and talk to. I guess we utilize a technique that we call connection conversations. Everybody's read the Harvard Business Study. I'm quite sure about the 80 years that they were studying what makes people happiest, and it is connection. Our goal is to help connect people and connect two people in a way that's really meaningful. We utilize connection conversations with leaders, physicians, providers, front-line team members, and we do a lot of observation. We will go into a department or a clinic or a floor or whatever the situation may be. We will begin asking a series of questions that we have developed based on what we've seen in the data and what we've heard and seen within the individual assessments and that sort of thing. We begin to craft that story, if you will, and then we want to go validate it. How does this appear to a front-line team member? How does it appear to a provider or a physician who may not really fully understand the business or operational side of the organization? Then we pull all of that information together to create an organizational assessment that we would review with the senior team to say here's what we found in your data and here's what we found when we started talking with your team members and those who work here. Here's where there are similarities, here's where you might be experiencing some challenges with your data. Then here's the intervention that we can put into play in order to be able to assist with any of those challenges or opportunities for improvement.

Dr. Pelè: 

Awesome stuff. I have a question about two stories that maybe you could share, Two stories One about a success that you experienced out in the field doing your thing maybe something fun, no need for names, just the scenario and one that didn't go so well, and then I'd love to know what went wrong. Is there a mindset that's embedded that causes things to just go south like that? I love these two stories because I think that gives us a sense of where we all need to find our path. So what are your two stories? The good and the bad?

Lara Burnside: 

So I have two stories, one, but they have the same answer.

Dr. Pelè: 

Oh OK.

Lara Burnside: 

Oh, the answer is people role model and exhibit behaviors that are being demonstrated and seen by their leaders.

Dr. Pelè: 

Oh.

Lara Burnside: 

Period.

Dr. Pelè: 

How true is that?

Lara Burnside: 

So the good story we'll start. There is a hospital that I worked with that was really really interested in improving. The CEO had been there for 25 or 30 years. They highly respected CEO and it was the first time that it happened to be a. He was the only CEO that I have ever had in my entire career that was not actually present when we did leadership development or even when I came on site Periodically. He would be there, but he was real active in the state when it came to the healthcare quality and healthcare policy and all of those kind of things, and so he spent a lot of time at the Capitol going through all of that. So he wasn't always there at the hospital and so I shared with him. At the beginning I said you know, this is kind of a challenge because my words are only as powerful as your presence and I need you to champion everything that we're doing. And he said you've got that. You have every bit of my support and I will make it very clear that if you're here, you know it's. They need to be listening and they need to be aware that this is where we're going. And I said, okay, I am really hesitant on this. I'm thinking this is not going to work, this is going to be a disaster. But you know, it's what I've got. So I'm thinking, all right, how do I make the most of what I've got? And we'll figure it out. Well, we go to our very first Leadership Development Institute and I'm standing up there and he I had asked him to do an introduction of me and kind of introduce what we were doing so that they could hear it from him and he said these words and it really hit me at that moment why this is so important and critical to every day be building levels of trust, levels of engagement and an interest and a connection to your organization. And here's what he did. He said we are embarking on this entire journey. We are looking at quality, we're looking at the care that our patients are given when they come in, so that patient experience piece. We're looking at engagement levels and we're pulling all of these things together so that we can continue to grow as an organization. That in a way that we need to and also be financially viable. But you all know that my role is pretty big here in the state and that's going to require me to not be here every single time, but I need you to know that when you hear her speak, it is the exact same as what's coming out of my mouth. She and I have worked on things behind the scenes, and my absence here is in no way a reflection of disinterest or a reflection of not being really invested and involved in what this transformation needs to look like for our organization to be the best that it can be. And he went on to talk about, you know, the other things that the organization was doing and he said and with that, my expectation is that you're here, that you're always fully present whenever we are talking about anything related to the work that we're going to be doing, and my expectation is that when we have these types of sessions, that you will be here. And it was the only time in my entire career that my CEO was not present and I never had a person miss anything.

Dr. Pelè: 

Wow.

Lara Burnside: 

I thought it was wow. And you know, this particular organization has gone on to win some of the highest quality awards that there are, and the highest quality award there is, and it's no doubt why, right.

Dr. Pelè: 

What a demonstration of trust right.

Lara Burnside: 

That's correct, fully aligned, fully aligned. Yeah, the other story is not so pretty.

Dr. Pelè: 

Okay.

Lara Burnside: 

But again, you know everything rises and falls on leadership, right. So I had a small hospital that I was going to, again very visible senior team, because it wasn't a very big hospital. But, the CEO was clearly not interested in transforming anything, and so I had gone and it was okay. And then I came back and it was not any better, and so finally I went out and I had been doing observations and things were just getting worse. And you know, I couldn't hear that anything had been happening in the month since I had been there, and so it was just kind of not a pretty scene at all. And so I sat with the senior team and I said I need you to know I'm not coming back.

Dr. Pelè: 

You drew a line in the sand.

Lara Burnside: 

And they all just stared at me and I said but I want to tell you why You're spending a lot of money for me to come here and I want you to get outcomes for any money that you spend. We don't have any to waste. So my goal is that you're always receiving outcomes, and it's very clear to me that you're not ready for this, and so I'm not going to waste any more of your time or any more of your money and or mine. Right Like this is, you know, let's just call it what it is. So I left. It was very awkward and, I kid you not, I got to the airport. You know, I just left, so I went to the. I'm sitting at my gate and I look up and the CEO from that hospital is sitting across from me in the gate. We were on the same flight.

Dr. Pelè: 

Oh.

Lara Burnside: 

What do you do at this point? Right, we're sitting conversation. Well, this is awkward. And we laughed and he actually came over and sat next to me and we had the best talk and he said you were right, you were honest. You know, and that's all I can ask for from anyone who's coming in to consult us on being our best is to yeah, it's for honesty. And he said so I can't blame you and I appreciate it and I'm sorry that it ended up the way it did. And I said you know, if you're ever ready, let me know.

Dr. Pelè: 

But anyway, again, not as pretty a story, but yeah, and and the funny thing is, even in the second story that wasn't so pretty looks like you still earned that key trust capability and I think that's that's. That's that says something about you know what you bring to the table for them. But you know, I'm inspired to ask you a question about how do we get leaders or just employees in organizations to To come back to having fun, to come back to to this trust thing we've talked, you've talked about in these two examples More laughter, more levity. How do we help people actually do that? We can't force them.

Lara Burnside: 

Well, I think that you know again, it all rises and falls on leadership. So Organization where, where I was employed for about seven years, that was actually one of our rules was that we had to seek joy and because it was right there in front of us all the time it made it okay. And you know we were, we were rallying around that element of of having Levity, if you will, when it's not that situation ever right. I mean we do celebrate with our patients and with our family members when we get good news, but then, as a caregiver, you're gonna work with your family. However, you're gonna walk into the next room and it could be something really totally devastating. Yeah, emotional swing is very severe, and so it's really important for us in healthcare in particular, but in every organization, to bring laughter and joy and some fun into the workplace. It's where people connect. Yeah it's where people feel like they can actually be who they need to be and who they are, and it's also the height of learning happens at laughter. But the height of engagement also happens when there's joy and I feel joyful. I feel differently about where I work and so I I do feel, as Healthcare has kind of worked its way through the pandemic and still working its way through the pandemic, we kind of lost that. Yeah there is. There is a moment of for every leader that we work with that we've got to talk about how can you bring joy and fun and happiness to your right?

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, yeah.

Lara Burnside: 

Conversation, because that's really where you reduce turnover rates. It's where your burnout rates begin to decrease. It's where you have people who are connecting with each other in a way that it becomes much more efficient. And so profitability begins to really expand. So I love your title. You know all of that. But I think it's absolutely a necessity in order for us to be a profitable and viable organization today and also into the future.

Dr. Pelè: 

No, I couldn't agree more. Of course, that's what profitable happiness is all about, and I appreciate you helping to really share this message that you know happiness is not trite. It's not just, you know, pleasure seeking alone. It's not just you know, this raw, raw kind of happiness. It is the, the catalyst for engagement and, as you say, joy and all the other wonderful words that you've shared here. You know, thank you for making that link between what you've seen in the real world and just the basic idea of people being happy with what they do so that they can help their you know customers be happy, right, their patients be happy.

Lara Burnside: 

Yes, it's calling, yeah, and you know if you, if you have a doctor or a nurse or a laboratory professional or you know anyone who has spent their entire life studying something that is really personal when it comes to delivery and that goes through whether it's environmental services or nutritional services or supply chain or any of those things matter because you can do those things at any organization. So why do you choose to come into a healthcare you know company or a healthcare organization and there's there's something to that Because it's a calling. We feel very connected to the work. What we try to do at CSE leadership is connect people to the place and when you take that and you have that full connection of I love what I do and I love where I do it.

Dr. Pelè: 

Ooh, that's a great distinction. I like that.

Lara Burnside: 

It's very there's a different connection point for those who are receiving care there and those who are delivering.

Dr. Pelè: 

Wow, so I'm going to write that one down. Got to love what you do and you got to love where you're doing, because because you know you could love what you do, but you are in absolutely the wrong environment. Hopefully you're in the right environment, though, all right. Well, you know. Larry, I have a question for you what are you excited about most right now? What project are you working on, and how can people get ahold of you to learn more about you and your current projects?

Lara Burnside: 

No sure, absolutely. I am most excited because when you have your own business, you get to actually innovate and create and help people in the way that they need it, and that, to me, is really important. It's not about, again, this cookie cutter approach. It's about tailoring interventions to be the right intervention for the organization with whom you're working, and when you do that, there's a ripple effect and an impact that can be felt for many, many, many generations. So today, when I go into healthcare organizations, I'm now working with the children of people that I worked with years ago. And so, and when I get to work with physicians, particularly those who are teaching and training, I love that, because they actually get to create a legacy of excellent and what does excellent care look like and what type of behaviors do we put into play in order to provide that excellent care? And so they then get to teach that to others, and so the amount of patients and the amount of caregivers who get to experience excellence down the line is so big there's no end to it right If we do it right. And so for these physicians or nurses or experienced professionals, they actually get to leave a legacy behind. That's really powerful. And that's what excites me the most is being able to create a space for them to be able to do that. So, yeah, go ahead. Well, I mean.

Dr. Pelè: 

I was going to say that you know, your passion for what you do just shines through and you know you said earlier that a lot of this has to be to some degree a calling. You can learn everything, but if your heart is not in the where and the what that you're doing, it's just not the same.

Lara Burnside: 

I do it.

Dr. Pelè: 

I digress, you totally have a passion for this, which is awesome to see.

Lara Burnside: 

I do, without a doubt, and I think everyone needs to find their passion, absolutely Everyone needs to find what their calling is and then just do and be the best that you can be in it. Yeah, but no, we're happy to help individuals or organizations. Our web address is cseleadershipcom.

Dr. Pelè: 

Okay.

Lara Burnside: 

And I would be thrilled to talk with anyone who might have a similar passion or anyone who might be looking for someone that we could assist and be able to help any organization or individual be the best they can be.

Dr. Pelè: 

And I will also include your LinkedIn handle in the show notes here, because that's actually how we met, yes, and I look forward to sharing whatever I can to contribute to your vision of helping organizations the way you do. Lara, thank you so much for being a guest on the Profitable Happiness Podcast.

Lara Burnside: 

Thank you so much for having me. It's been a true privilege, awesome.

Dr. Pelè: 

Thanks for tuning in to the Profitable Happiness Podcast. For more episodes, visit DrPalletcom. And remember get happy first and success will follow.