A Surgeon’s Five-Star Perspective Regarding Gracious Leadership

14 October 2019

A book review from Randy Cook, M.D.

Uncommonly insightful observations on common human behavior 
Janet Meeks never even considered a career in healthcare until a profound and emotionally wrenching life event suddenly placed her inside a healthcare facility as a patient. That experience left her with a deep respect for nurses, physicians, technicians and the many other humans that work together to deliver healthcare in our nation. Later, when she was offered a position within a large healthcare system in her native Mississippi, she sought and received counsel, both pro and con. Eventually, she made the decision to leave the banking world, which she knew and fully understood, to enter the world of healthcare, which was totally uncharted territory for her.

Gracious Leadership is the beautifully written story of her journey over more than three decades, finally finishing her career as the leader of a hospital which was transformed under her guidance into a model of both patient and employee satisfaction. It should be required reading, not only for hospital executives, but for anyone who aspires to be a business leader in any field. Her advice and personal observations are at the core of any attempt to build and maintain productive relationships.

Meeks bases her leadership style on what she calls the “head-heart connection.” To quote her own words: “Leading with both your head and your heart does not mean you’re soft or fail to hold your team accountable to achieve the right results. Much to the contrary, when you lead with your head and your heart, you consistently act in the best interest of your key stakeholders and are purposeful in helping employees understand they are doing meaningful work.”

The book presents an in-depth discussion of thirteen key principles of gracious leadership. The ideas presented in these discussions are informed by real life experiences which Meeks relates in detail. Each of these discussions is then followed by a list of reflective “conversation starters” to facilitate the cultivation of gracious leadership.

As a physician with more than four decades in private practice, I regret that I never encountered a hospital executive who possessed an understanding of how to motivate and cultivate human resources in the way that Janet Meeks so clearly does. I hope this book will find a place within arm’s reach of every healthcare executive in America. In fact, executives in virtually any field will benefit as well. The principles put forth in Gracious Leadership transcend any identity of product or service. It’s a book about people and how to help them become the best possible version of themselves