Longtime healthcare leader David Zechman steps forward with this quiet, kindly guide to servant leadership under circumstances good and bad.
A former CEO of two hospitals and devoted family man, he aims to support readers on their “daily leadership journey” through the exploration of eight “compassionate values,” each given its own chapter. Chapter titles are “Patience,” “Trustful,” “Grudgeless,” “Honesty and Integrity,” “Communication,” “Servant Leadership,” “Walk the Talk” and “Commitment.” These values are illustrated by examples from his own career, his colleagues, and his mentees.
Zechman takes pains to note that this is not a “hugs and kisses” leadership guide. Instead, he focuses on the sometimes-difficult work of developing the self-mastery it takes to lead with honesty and kindness. He also discusses the need to lead with as much respect when firing someone as when promoting them.
While informed by his faith, the narrative is refreshingly lacking in proselytization. He encourages readers to write out solid action plans for developing these critical skills and to listen and learn without ego. “There are some leaders who think they are always right, because of the position they have,” he writes, noting that “we are all human beings. We all make mistakes. And the mark of a very smart human being is to […] admit that they have made mistakes – and then be determined to correct them.”
Zechman doesn’t go into much detail or break new ground in this slim book. For example, he reminds readers to “Practice active listening,” discusses how important it is for senior management to have open communication channels with employees and each other, and so on. Such information has been covered exhaustively before.
Nonetheless, Zechman’s humility and gentle approach are a welcome change from some of the bluster that plagues much of the leadership narrative employed in current books. Overall, this is a sweet, thoughtful guide, useful for leaders who want to bring goodness as well as competence to their performance.
Also available as an ebook.