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Creating a culture of heroes at every level of your organization

Podcast - September 15, 2022

Professional Development

Leadership Development

Culture & Engagement

Andy Stonehouse MA

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According to author and speaker Kevin Brown, the role of leadership in an organization is to create an environment where people can be the best version of themselves. Brown says that leadership begins by mastering self and the daily habits necessary to help mentor others.
Brown will be appearing as a keynote speaker at MGMA’s Medical Practice Excellence: Leaders Conference in Boston, held Oct. 9-12, where he will speak on “The Hero Effect: Creating a Culture of Heroes at Every Level.” MGMA recently spoke with him to get a preview of his presentation.

Editor’s note: The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 
Q: You talk about something called the hero effect. Tell us about that. Where did you land on the hero?

A: The simplest definition I can give you of the hero effect is being your best, when it matters. Showing up and making life better, solving problems at a high level. In 2007, I had a group ask me to speak. The committee chairwoman said, “Kevin, listen, we don’t want a stock speech. The men and women that you’re going to be talking to are the hardest working people on the planet. They show up in the wake of disasters big and small. They help people put their lives back together when they’re broken.”
And when she said the word “heroes,” I wrote it down, I circled it, I underlined it. So when she was done, I said, “how about this, we’re going to give a speech about what it means to be a hero, to bring the best version of yourself to this moment, and pour it into the people in front of you, and do that at work, and at home.” And from that moment on, my life has never been the same. That set me on a journey, my own hero’s journey, this quest for “what does it mean to be a hero?” Because we hear it so much, especially over the last three years.
Q: It’s hard to avoid the whole superhero idea. Can you just be a day-to-day hero, someone who is in the trenches, but you’re making a difference?

A: Sometimes the very idea of being a hero is so big that we push it away and our own humility pushes it away. We don’t want to necessarily be identified as a hero. But one thing I do know is that heroic things aren’t necessarily big things. They’re everyday things. Moms and dads are heroes. Teachers, doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, utility workers, grocery store workers … heroes show up in all walks of life, from all backgrounds. In our world today, simply being kind to somebody is heroic. Simply smiling at somebody can be a heroic gesture.
It's about doing great things in the moment that we’re in. And most people miss the moment that they’re in. Because we’re so distracted, we run through life with our heads down and our thumbs moving, and we miss the only thing that we have control of, in the first place. And that’s the moment that we’re in. And what people in that moment with us desperately need is to be connected to that person in us. Maybe it’s just a shoulder to lean on, maybe it’s a kind word, maybe it’s someone to hear our story and to say, “you know what, you can get through this. It’s going to be OK.”
Q: What are some steps someone can take to find the best version of themselves?

A: The hard thing for a leader to accept is that we reproduce what we are. When I was a young leader, I went into my mentor’s office one day and I said, “I’m surrounded by idiots. And these people can’t get it done. They have poor attitudes.” And he said, “I’m gonna tell you something, we reproduce what we are. So if you’re surrounded by idiots, you probably need to go take a look in the mirror.” That was a hard pill to swallow, but he was absolutely right.
So when it comes to leadership, when you think about bringing out the best in somebody else, first of all, you have to recognize the best in other people. So many leaders fall prey to feeling like they just need to tell people what to do, instead of showing them what it looks like. The truly heroic leaders have the right questions. They understand that everybody all around them already has the answers. 


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The MGMA Insights podcasts are produced by Daniel Williams, Rob Ketcham and Decklan McGee. 


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Now is the perfect time to register for the Medical Practice Excellence: Leaders Conference in Boston, October 9-12, 2022, and at the Digital Experience (DX) November 8-10, 2022. The MGMA Community would love to see you!

About the Author

Andy Stonehouse MA
Freelance Writer and Educator Colorado

Andy Stonehouse, MA, is a Colorado-based freelance writer and educator. His professional credits include serving as editor of Employee Benefit News and a variety of financial and insurance publications, in addition to work in the recreation and transportation fields.


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