Q4 2021 Leadership Letter - Principles of Top Performers

December 31, 2021

For the past three years, I've had the unique opportunity to sit down and speak with exceptional leaders of our country's healthcare organizations. While their companies range from from small non-profits to large-scale organizations, the lessons and perspectives on leadership remain consistent.

To provide some context, when I first started Tallio in 2018 I had ambitions to build a technology company. Being a new CEO myself, I had little experience and wanted to know how the best CEOs in healthcare think. I spent time reading leadership and management books, but still searched for something more. After reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss, I decided to take a similar approach and hand pick CEOs that I would love to personally learn from. I viewed the Leadership Letters as a way to connect with people that would otherwise seem impossible. Now, nine interviews later,  I've identified themes and commonalities that not only helped me in my entrepreneurial journey, but can be applied to anyone aspiring to be a great leader. This quarter's letter summarizes six principles that can empower you to think like a top performer.

1.) Values

Each interviewee identified a set of personal values that helped guide them throughout their careers as a leader. These values created a framework for their thinking through strategic decisions in their businesses. Below is a list of the top personal values highlighted from the previous Leadership Letter interviews.

Respect. Develop deep empathy to improve your connection with others.

Consistency. Create routines at the right cadence and with the right intensity.

Integrity. Take ownership with your decisions and do what you said you would do.

Openness. Be clear about the mission and vision while sharing the progress toward these goals. Don't be afraid to express where you need help.

2.) Casting Vision While Executing

Believing in a better future is something every leader does. Leaders are the force behind motivating people to support a cause, stand behind a movement, or join a company. While a steadfast vision of the future is important, there must be an emphasis on execution.

Think big. Making a deliberate effort and taking time to look at the big picture was a common strategy.

Eliminate distractions. Email and phone notifications can disrupt productivity and stifle creative ideas. Start with an hour of focused effort without these distractions to get into a state of flow.

Remove yourself from the day-to-day. Leverage the strengths of your team through delegation. Focus your time on removing obstacles in their way.

Measure progress. Great things do not happen overnight. Continuously measuring the progress towards goals and celebrating milestones helps the vision come to reality.

3.) Putting People First

Each leader has their own method for focusing on their people, but the underlying principle is the same. Treat your team well, as they're the face of your organization.

Create a sense of ownership. Ownership creates a culture of 'we' and a sense of community, giving responsibility to everyone involved.

Deliver a personal touch. Writing personal thank you notes can have significant impact on the motivation and output of your team. Identify a team member that has gone above and beyond take time to recognize them.

4.) Learning From Failure

Everyone fails. Including the people who have climbed the heights of success. The difference with those who make it to the summit is that failure is viewed as a learning opportunity.

Admit failure. But don't make the same mistake twice.

Push the envelope. Failure occurs at the margins of our limits. Operate outside of your comfort zone to maximize learning.

Make continuous improvements. Failure is an inherent part of running experiments. Documenting the process can help you understand what's working and what's not. The more experiments you run, the more you'll learn and the faster you'll succeed.

Be resilient. Harness the ability to bounce back from failure. Don't let anything slow you down.

5.) Personal Balance

If you're unable to lead yourself, how will you be capable of leading others? Each person interviewed outlined methods and strategies on how they spent time on activities to center themselves and develop a sense of peace. Regardless of the specific activity, there were certain commonalities used to create personal balance.

Be intentional. Make time and be deliberate with whatever activity you're engaging in. Whether it's rock climbing, reading, or time with pets, use this time as an opportunity for introspection or a way to unplug.  

Stay committed. Maintain consistent action with your activity to build momentum and experience compounding benefits.

Include physical activity. Including exercise can create an immersive and whole body experience that allows you to fully focus on the activity at hand.

6.) Technology Accelerant

Having a pragmatic approach to technology was one of the final themes among interviewees from the Leadership Letters. Each person viewed technology as a critical aspect of moving toward a mission or vision for their organization, but not a panacea.

Augment people. Equip your people with the right technology so they can be more efficient and serve more customers without sacrificing their wellbeing.

Create better workflows. You can have the best technology, but without disciplined usage, processes, or workflows its potential will be limited. Explore existing workflows to see if questions arise on how to improve its efficiency.

Use data to your advantage. Identify what problem you're trying to solve and develop specific questions to dissect the problem. Then determine what information you need to answer these questions and what you're missing.

Final Thoughts

Each of our leadership journeys are different, yet we all experience successes and face challenges. My hope is that you are able to take away actionable items from these six principles and that they help you grow as a leader of yourself and your team.

- Matt Challberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Tallio

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