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Putting People First


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    Essentials of Leadership participants learn how to become better leaders by focusing on people.

    Technology continues to rapidly change the way we do business.

    Patients no longer wait to see a physician to learn more about a treatment or drug, people no longer seek help from the library’s Reference Desk before researching their topic of choice, and consumer reviews have a significant impact on future sales. With this ever-changing landscape to consumerism and digitization, leaders are constantly challenged to stay ahead of the game.

    To see how the University is facing these challenges, five senior leaders from both the academic and medical enterprises gathered to discuss their strategies on Tuesday, October 10, during the Business of the U panel discussion. Attended by more than 100 participants and their supervisors, Business of the U is the kick-off session of Essentials of Leadership, a professional development program for managers at the University.

    Moderated by Nerissa Morris, vice president for human resources, the distinguished panel of guests included Jeffrey Duerk, executive vice president and provost; Charles Eckman, dean of libraries and University librarian; David Ertel, chief financial officer and chief strategy officer for UHealth; Laurence Gardner, executive dean for education and policy at the Miller School of Medicine; and Ben Riestra, chief administration officer for the Lennar Foundation Medical Center.

    When asked about their roles in facing these challenges, leading their teams, and carrying out the University’s strategic vision, their responses were varied, but carried the common theme of delivering great service.

    “Patients come first,” stated Dr. Gardner referring to the one thing his area must not lose focus on in the face of change. “We are a 24/7 clinical operation that also conducts research. We have to remember how lost and how frightened we can feel as a patient, and remember to be empathic, understanding, and caring. No matter how committed we are to rounding or to writing that proposal for philanthropy, as soon as a call or email from a patient or family member comes in, we must stop what we’re doing and respond because that takes priority.”

    To help make sure patients come first, leadership at Lennar believes in taking care of employees. “At Lennar, we wanted to create a better experience, the human experience,” said Riestra. “Happy people provide great patient care. I try to get to know my staff and learn about their families. I’ve often received comments on how happy our staff is, and that makes a difference.”

    Successful leaders know that while it’s important to understand emerging trends, they must also remember to focus on the people around them—patients, students, and employees.

    The Essentials of Leadership program supports UM leaders in their role as coaches and mentors. The six-month program helps participants explore their individual leadership style, understand the four main learning styles, gain confidence in handling difficult conversations at work, and expand their professional network with colleagues across the University.

    Learn more about the program.

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