MedCity Influencers

Crank up the Personality in Healthcare IT

I think it goes without saying that strong personalities tend to leave big impressions. This seems to be true in the business world, no matter what type of industry you’re in. I’ve find that in healthcare IT, the big personalities often get their fair share of media coverage – no doubt a small part of […]

I think it goes without saying that strong personalities tend to leave big impressions. This seems to be true in the business world, no matter what type of industry you’re in. I’ve find that in healthcare IT, the big personalities often get their fair share of media coverage – no doubt a small part of why they were hired to do what they’re doing. Farzad Mostashari, former head of the ONC, is a great example – a smart and engaging guy with the clinical street cred to crank enthusiasm for Meaningful Use all the way up to 11. Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush is another example; as enthusiastic about the amazing value healthcare IT can and will deliver as he is about setting the record straight with naysayers.

I do wonder if personality can’t get so big that it becomes a hindrance. Would anyone other than Bush have generated such industry gossip by choosing to take a prolonged amount of time off? Would anyone other than Mostashari’s next career steps have been tweeted about to the nth degree?

I couldn’t help but think about big personalities in our industry when I heard reports of T-Mobile CEO John Legere – a big personality himself – getting thrown out of a competitor’s party at CES. A later report on NPR left me with the impression that he and Bush share a number of personality traits, which I assume contribute to their continued success.

I’m left wondering then, how much of a role certain personality traits play in the success or failure of companies. Are leaders with big personalities more common in smaller companies and start-ups? Have the leaders of today’s corporate healthcare IT behemoths had to dial theirs back to two or three so as not to rock the shareholder boat? Does gender have a role to play? The strategically media-shy Judy Faulkner of Epic throws a wrench into the whole premise.

Forbes lists 10 qualities that make a great leader:

  1. honesty
  2. ability to delegate
  3. communication
  4. sense of humor
  5. confidence
  6. commitment
  7. positive attitude
  8. creativity
  9. intuition
  10. ability to inspire

The qualities in bold lend themselves particularly well to a leader who is likely outgoing and often the center of whatever room he or she steps into.

I’m certainly no psychologist, but find it interesting nonetheless to dissect industry fascination with certain personality types. We’ll likely all run into a few at HIMSS 14 in a few weeks. HIMSS has even been so kind as to categorize its attendees into 14 different types (none of which I fit, by the way). It will be interesting to see who breaks the mold in Orlando and whether or not their company and products seem poised to do the same.

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