Don't Forget to Say Thank You
This is a reminder that was given to me all too often in my youth, and always resurfaces during this time of year.
Dan Russell, the founding CEO of Catholic Health East, recently passed away. He had the unenviable task of bringing together several Catholic health systems up and down the East Coast. At its peak, CHE had more than 100 healthcare-related organizations and more than 46,000 employees. As a member of his senior leadership team, I had the opportunity to watch and learn from him daily.
Only a person like Dan could provide the kind of leadership that was necessary in CHE’s formative years. He was a rare combination of gentle and tough, thoughtful and quick, analytical and sensory in his leadership style. His spirituality was as evident as his faith. Oh and by the way: he was a lot of fun. He took his work, but not himself, seriously. He welcomed all feedback, even when he disagreed.
When I learned of Dan’s illness from my friend and colleague Howard Watts, I tried to call Dan and was unable to reach him. So I did what we all do. I left him a voicemail, which was wholly inadequate. My message was one of thanks for all that he taught me.
Dan’s death reminded me to say thank you to all those who contributed to my professional and personal growth. In fact, I wrote this article with the intent to say thank you to my mentors and teachers, by name. The danger (of course) would be in missing someone. There are many. If you have been following my blog, then you know that I feel that the number one responsibility of a leader is to be committed to the growth of those who will replace them. I was lucky to work for and with people who had that philosophy.
So take the advice that's often given yet seldom truly heard. Say “thank you” to those who have contributed to your professional growth; those who have been your mentor, advocate, colleague, and – if you are lucky like me – your friend.