• Article
  • December 8, 2020

Leadership Tip: Putting People First

Prioritizing the value of team members as individuals fosters a sense of community and improves outcomes.

Chanda Chacón, president and CEO, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska
Chanda Chacón, president and CEO, Children's Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska

As a recently appointed president and CEO, Chanda Chacón brings to her new post a wealth of wide-ranging management experiences. And although the settings and roles have changed over her nearly two decades as a children's hospital leader, there remains one constant: her emphasis on a people-first approach.

"Whether it's your employees, the patients and families or your partners and community organizations you're putting first—it's always about the people," says Chacón, M.P.H., FACHE Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. "If you invest in that concept and really take it to heart, you can worry less about the other things."

For Chacón, that means making sure her team gets to know her first on a personal level and not as the president and CEO. Returning that sentiment, Chacón says, elevates everyone across the organization. "It helps them understand I value them as individuals and what they bring to the table—that it matters to me that you're on the team," Chacón says. "It matters to me that you're successful—because no matter what level you're at and what seat you're in, you're a leader when you're on my team."

Pandemic underscores need to invest in staff

The extreme pressure on health care workers during the pandemic has amplified the importance of a people-first philosophy, according to Chacón. "While health care workers are very resilient and used to crazy things happening, we in health care leadership are not as used to figuring out how to help them when home and work are so stressful," Chacón says. "Valuing people in health care is even more important than ever before because we can't afford to have turnover—we need great people for the work we're doing."

Chacón says people-first initiatives such as diversity, equity, inclusion and setting a clear career path can help create a culture where people not only want to stay but are excited to show up every day and make a difference. "When people believe the organization cares about them and they're valued, they are inspired to work for your organization," Chacón says. "When you put your people at the front of the equation—no matter how you look at it-great outcomes happen." 

Send questions and comments.