I have the privilege to work with a network of strong and diverse leaders. Over the next few months, I will be sharing their insights on leadership and their thoughts on how to be a great leader with you – this week allow me to introduce you to Brian Lee.

Brian Lee is one of North America’s leading voices in the fields of Patient/Resident Satisfaction, Continuing Care, and Nurse and Employee Retention. He is a best-selling author and speaker in the healthcare industry (having presented all over North America, and 14 countries worldwide). His publications include Keep Your Nurses for Life and Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Brian has great insight. He’s the CEO of Custom Learning Systems Group Ltd. and has a great deal of experience from his work guiding hundreds of healthcare professionals and systems through organizational change.

Recently, Brian and I were chatting about his work as a leader in the healthcare industry. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:


SA:       I often say that clearly stated objectives and a straightforward mission are vital to leaders; what is your mission?

BL:       Yes, I agree and simply put, I want to make a profound difference in healthcare by developing world-class patient care


SA:       You work with people who lead some of the largest healthcare organizations in North America. How do you position these leaders to be successful when they are leading significant changes to their patient care models?

BL:       I have learned how to build empathy with the difficult issues healthcare leaders have. Through empathy, I can understand and appreciate the problems that keep my clients up at night. They see that I understand their unique problems and together we cultivate and initiate a process that places the patient at the centre and caring becomes a passion.

I know that the people I work with have the desire to be better, But often that isn’t sufficient to drive change. I also have to demonstrate that there is a competitive and a financial reason to be better.


SA:       So, what’s the holdup? Why are organizations so reluctant to change?

BL:       The speed of the leader is the speed of the team. If the CEO is tentative or slow, this is mirrored in the team. That is why it is vital that the leader is fully committed to timely change.


SA:       What leadership traits do you see in those that have made the leap to world-class patient care

BL:       To a person, the leaders who have successfully led significant organizational change have a burning desire to be better and the vision to do so.

They can see where they are and where they are going

Each of them has the will to achieve excellence balanced with the humility to know they are not there yet and that they cannot do it alone.


SA:       So, what do you bring to the table?

BL:       I listen. I listen to what they say on the surface and what they are telling me before making a recommendation

I work hard to present the deficiencies I see without offending. But in a way, that enhances and focuses their drive and need to do better.

I have learned to speak to everyone as if they want to do more and that everything is possible.


SA:       What is the one piece of leadership advice you wish you would have known earlier?

BL:       As the Dalai Lama often says: “Be kind wherever possible, and it’s always possible.”


SA:       Thanks Brian.

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