Paul Kusserow is the CEO of Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED), a leading provider of home health and hospice services with more than 22,000 employees and over 415,000 yearly patients. Under his leadership, Amedisys has multiplied nine times in traded value. What does he credit this success to? Being an un-CEO and continuously striving to be a better leader.
The way I manage as a CEO is to acknowledge that we have an upside down org chart-- I'm
on the bottom of the org chart. It is my job and my team's job to listen and serve. We have to
make sure we do the best we can so that our employees can best serve our patients.
Paul has 3 core tenants to better leadership:
Treat others as you want to be treated.
This is an integral part of Amedisys’ success. Whether it be a hospice nurse or accountant,
everybody in the company is providing care for patients, directly or indirectly. And, in every level of the organization, employees are recognized and appreciated for their caregiving. Paul notes that recognizing every individual’s contribution to patients in the organization has instilled purpose and better team dynamics.
Take time to sit down with leaders to talk through their role and identify what they need to be better listeners. It’s important that leaders continuously work on being better listeners because it’s the only way to learn how you can be most supportive to your team. Listening is the only way to understand problems the people on your team face and hear how they may best be solved.
While technical literacy is vital when starting out in your career, Paul asserts that when it comes to leading, emotional intelligence is even more important. Paul has yet to come across a company, team, or functional area of business where technical training is more important to leading than EQ. There is a void in colleges and business schools when it comes to learning how to have better EQ -- and contrary to what many people believe, EQ skills can be learned and practiced.
Start early! Don’t wait until a promotion in order to start working on how to motivate others or create good team culture. Get good at the technical skills you have to know, but recognize that the importance and effectiveness of your EQ skills will grow over time.
Even as the CEO, Paul wants his team to let him know how he can improve. He asks his team, his board, and Amedisys employees to share a 360-degree review of his performance. He implemented this so that he can create a safe environment for employees of all levels to give feedback on his performance. By doing this, your team feels heard, and you will feel humbled.
Ask the people around you, below, above, or side by side, what they think and what advice they would give to you. 360-degree reviews allow you to understand if your are blocking your company’s progress and what actions you can take to create an environment that fosters success.
Special thanks to Paul for taking the time to share with us the practices that make teams great at Amedisys!