Healthcare Leadership Lessons from Mark Dixon

Even within rapidly evolving industries like healthcare, we should never take for granted the lessons that can be learned from those leaders who have gone before, as well as from our former and current successful colleagues. I recently had the privilege of spending a fascinating hour interviewing Mark Dixon, who until recently served as Regional President at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Dixon has enjoyed thirty-five years as a senior healthcare leader, and now serves as the President of the Mark Dixon Group, LLC. During our interview, Dixon shared some of his experiences as a healthcare leader, and offered some great insights and timeless lessons applicable to any leader.

Dixon explained that he began his career as a pharmacist, but soon realized he had an aptitude to lead. “I began taking on leadership roles, and suddenly I could see that the work that I could do would not only affect one patient at a time, but so many patients in so many positive ways.” Dixon soon found his niche in healthcare leadership, where he realized he could have a larger impact by improving the healthcare experience for so many.

Dixon pointed to integrity and compassion as having most positively impacted his career, stating, “I’m here to serve. I’m here to provide a better experience. I’m here not to be a controller, but rather to serve the organization and serve the patient.” Dixon went on to offer the advice that in order to provide great service and maintain the values of compassion and integrity, good healthcare leaders should consistently put themselves in the shoes of patients, physicians, clinicians, and all employees alike.

When asked what he has enjoyed most about his career in healthcare, Dixon responded, “I love building high-performance teams – getting the team functioning together and working together to serve our patients.” Anyone in any industry knows that getting a team, or teams, of people to work together toward one common goal is rarely easy. Being able to facilitate and watch teams break down barriers and support each other, Dixon explained, is one of the things he loves most about being in healthcare leadership.

It’s no secret that with healthcare – and the economy – in such a state of flux, not every health system is experiencing success. During his time at Fairview, Dixon helped the system focus on what was most important and what it needed to do to not only survive, but thrive. “The second thing I really enjoy about healthcare leadership is trying to provide strategic focus, and really help the organization focus on where it needs to be in three to five years, and not just where it is today.” Dixon explained that strategic focus is imperative to achieving operational excellence – another value that Dixon holds up as important to success in healthcare leadership. “It’s really about trying to reduce variation, achieve the best for the organization, and keep people focused on that operational excellence.

Great insights from a highly successful healthcare leader! 

How about you? What would you point to in your career that you most enjoy? For Dixon, it has been building high-performance teams and helping to provide strategic focus within his organization.

Take a quick break from your never ending “to do” list. Consider the counsel and experience of Mark Dixon, and reflect on your own career. What can you learn? What could and should you change or improve to become a more effective healthcare leader? 

For more information on Mark Dixon, go to http://www.linkedin.com/in/markddixon.

Copyright © 2012 by Dan Nielsen, Founder

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