• Article
  • May 3, 2018

Leadership Tip: Never Underestimate the Power of Listening

After more than 30 years as a practicing surgeon at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., and now as CEO and a published author, Kurt Newman, M.D., has learned many valuable lessons on the job. Here, he reveals his biggest lessons learned.

Mentoring and coaching

"One of the things I've learned is the value of mentors. That was such a big part of my life and career, and it's satisfying to have a great mentor—but it's a two-way street. You have to be open; you have to be in a position to receive mentorship. Maybe it's because I played a lot of sports as a young person, but to this day, I'm still looking for coaches and for people who can bring new ideas and new approaches to the table."

Watch and listen

"An important subset of that is listening: just listening to parents, to kids, to your co-workers. It makes everything more interesting and fun, and you learn so much from other people. Be sensitive to what people are saying. Sometimes it's not in words, but in how they're coming to you. So pay attention to their body language too."

Connect with patient families

"I think about where I've made mistakes, and some of my biggest mistakes were when I wasn't listening—particularly when I wasn't listening to patients' mothers. Mothers have amazing instincts and though it may be unscientific, you should trust that mother's instinct about her child.

Share your favorite leadership tip or lesson learned.