AACSB 2021 Influential Leader April Anthony, CEO of Encompass Health, shares four key characteristics for leaders to embrace to deal with tough challenges while also inspiring others. Anthony is a graduate of the College of Business Administration at Abilene Christian University in Texas.
April Anthony: [0:15] Healthcare is a business, but it's a business that starts with heart and compassion, and never more true than it has been in this last year.
[0:26] We were dealing with a highly contagious virus. We were dealing with employees who had to face the challenge of bringing that virus home after going out to see their patients, to their families, and to their children.
[0:40] It was a very stressful time, and it took courage. It took strength of will and character for our employees to be able to face that.
[0:50] As a leader, it took me creating a moment of inspiration to say, "Hey, I know it's hard. I know you didn't ever anticipate that you would be facing, all day, every day, this kind of risk in your professional career and the impact it could have on your employees. Here's what we're about," and I use the phrase "for such a time as this."
[1:13] We were built for such a time as this. We were in the perfect place as a home care provider to go out and serve patients not only in a cost effective manner but in a manner that lowered their risk of transmission of disease to the most vulnerable population facing that disease.
[1:34] It was an opportunity for our organization to rise to that challenge, but it took, as a leader, reminding them of our mission, inspiring them in the moment, giving them the courage.
[1:47] Also, giving them the tools to be safe, whether that was the personal protective equipment that we provided them or whether it was training around transmission and how to be more safe in your interactions with patients, how to validate before you walked into a home and the environment you were living in.
[2:06] Our leaders have to rise to the occasion and be inspirers in moments of challenge. As you think about business students developing their skills, I have a little acronym that I use for leaders, and maybe I'll close with this idea.
[2:23] I always say great leaders C.A.R.E. Not the traditional definition of care but I use that as an acronym to remember four characteristics.
[2:33] They Communicate, both listening and sharing information with their teams. They Aspire to greatness, and they inspire others to join them. They Resist the temptation to kick a problem down the road or to let that be someone else's challenge as well as resisting the temptation to lose their cool in a moment of stress.
[2:53] Finally, they Educate and they analyze so that their team members can fully understand the problems and help them come to solutions that will work most effectively for the organizations.
[3:04] When I think about our business students and what they have opportunities to do in the future, if they'll focus on those four characteristics of that C.A.R.E. acronym, they'll be able to prepare themselves for whatever challenge may come, whether that be another worldwide pandemic, whether that be an economic downturn, or whether that might be a challenging employment environment.
[3:28] Those characteristics will serve us well in all of those periods of challenge.
Recorded virtually in February 2021.