AHA 24th Annual Leadership Summit: Pat Riley on Winning and Learning
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By Meeta Gandhi

Meeta Gandhi

Meeta Gandhi

As an early careerist, having the opportunity to attend the American Hospital Association’s 24th Annual Leadership Summit was nothing short of exhilarating. This was my first experience attending a healthcare conference of this magnitude. As an intern in AHA’s Institute for Diversity’s Summer Enrichment Program, it was an opportunity to network with 13 peers who had been selected to attend, and to mingle with established professionals in the healthcare field. I came out of this experience with great friends, a broader network, and a deeper understanding for concepts I have learned about through my graduate experience: health equity, leadership and teamwork, behavioral health policy, value-based reimbursement, and information systems. Although I have much to learn, the sessions and keynote presentations were relatable and inspiring.

“We don’t win or lose, we win or learn.”

I will begin with Pat Riley, President of the Miami Heat, who presented the keynote address, “The Winner Within.” Raised as an avid sports fan, seeing him present was extremely exciting for me. (As a side note, it was equally as fun to send my dad pictures of this legendary coach, just to rub it in.) Riley connected his experiences as a basketball coach to leading a healthcare organization. He spoke of competition, leadership qualities, and rising to challenges. Who knew that a basketball court and a health system could be so easily compared? The main message I took from this was that leaders in all settings have to possess the same types of qualities in order to be respected and trusted. In addition, the true way to win is to work as a team; it is not an individual effort. “We don’t win or lose,” Riley said. “We win or learn.”

Pat Riley addresses the audience.

Pat Riley addresses the audience.

Pat Riley’s definition of leadership:

“First, trust. The only way you can ever be a leader or get anyone to follow you is by having trust. How do you get people to trust you? You have gone to the abyss with your team. When you get there it reveals your true character—who you are when nobody’s watching. You have to care about the people you work with. You want them to grow and you want something good for them. Second, you have to be competent. You have to educate, communicate, and bring back information. Simply – make them great. Lastly, reliability. When it hits the fan, where are you?”

I will wrap up what I took from Riley’s presentation by using his healthcare organization-Michael Jordan analogy. Riley stated, “If you want to get to where you want to go as an organization, you gotta meet them [challenges/competition] at the rim.” In a clear memory, Riley remembers players on his team stepping back when facing Jordan, letting him continuously score. It wasn’t until Riley blatantly told his team to meet Jordan where it counts, “at the rim,” when the game turned around and Riley’s team gained respect. Rising to challenges is also what will make you gain respect and grow as a healthcare organization.

While I found the keynote address inspirational and meaningful, I also gained a great deal from the panel session entitled, “Equity of Care: Essential to Improved Quality and Lower Costs.” Stay tuned for my second blog post from the summit, where I will share what I learned in this informative session.

Meeta Gandhi is a summer intern at Witt/Kieffer through the Institute for Diversity’s 2016 Summer Enrichment Program.

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