10 Rules for Being CEO

The “must-not-do” rules of being President and CEO of a hospital, the physician edition…

Rule 1: Do not refer to yourself in the third person, especially as a doctor. “Doctor P recommends you …”

Rule 2: Do not refer to experiences at your former place of employment, especially if it is a “name brand” health organization. “When I taught at (fill in the blank) teaching hospital we ….”

Rule 3: Do not think your CEO position now makes your clinical experiences more valid. “Back in 1978, I devoted a great deal of time driving transplantation.” (Note to self: You were an intern then).

Rule 4: Use of hip-hop terms are not well received in most hospital board meetings, that is until Dr. Dre actually attends medical school.

Rule 5: You are not the age of your administrative fellows. Don’t try to act like them. You have shoes that are older than them!

Rule 6: Do not make up your own management terms based on clinical medicine. “We need to increase the cardiac output of our revenue cycle to meet the oxygen demands of our capital projects before we have to do CPR on our equipment inventory.” Wait, what did he say?

Rule 7:  Do not act like you know more than your key department heads.
CEO: “This is our new generator system to meet the electrical demands of the campus.”
Department head: “Excuse me, sir, but that is our oxygen reserve tank.”

Rule 8:  Do not feel compelled to add to the comments of your team members after they’ve made brilliant points. CEO: “Let me just restate what Tom just said so eloquently, but I haven’t been able to say in my own words.”

Rule 9:  Do not create a culture in which you do not believe. “We are creating a blameless safety culture right after we get rid of those to blame.”

Rule 10: Do not think that all of your clinical success, your residency teaching awards, and your success at NIH research grants equal transferable success in running a hospital.

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12 thoughts on “10 Rules for Being CEO

  1. Dr. P,
    I am enjoying this blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us,

    Cathy B
    Specialty Pharmacy tech, Fairlane Pharmacy

  2. Dr. P. CEO

    The 10 Rules of being a CEO are fabulous. Thanks for sharing and I truly enjoyed your humor. Enjoy your day.

    Marguerite Gardner
    Dermatology CSR, Farmington Clinic

  3. Great article, Dr. Popovich. It’s funny and really shows that humility and confidence are two important traits for a leader.

  4. John,
    Saw in the Detroit News you had a blog, so I thought I’d check it out. Good stuff. Congrats and good luck!

  5. You help bring humor (top ten list) and a sense of the “common man” when you can talk and relate to people. Thanks for your fun!

  6. It’s great to see one of the “Good Guys” attain a major level of leadership.
    It was great working with you on the ICU committee in the 80’s. You demonstrated professionalism, intelligence and personality in everything you did!
    Your rules are very practical and effective.
    I’d paraphrase #9 to “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.
    Great to see HFH is in such good hands! Best of luck!

  7. It’s really refreshing to catch a glimpse of the human – and humorous – side of our executive management ! Thanks for sharing your insights! 😉

  8. This is great to read after meeting you at the Administrative Fellowship Reception Dinner at the DAC a couple weeks ago. I look forward to reading more about the experience you gained while wearing those shoes.

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