113: Leaders with Heart Set a Clear Vision For Others to Follow

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Kevin Patterson, CEO of Connect For Health Colorado about his leadership style and philosophy, a time when he was so proud of his leadership behaviors, and his unique perspective on employee voice and communication to different audiences.

Key takeaways:

  • Employees can’t be clear about what you need to do without knowing where you are going.
  • Do not micromanage; tell your people where you want them to end up and let them get there, their way.
  • We are managing to the outcome and not the how.
  • Provide guidance and suggestions on direction and then get out of the way.
  • Be comfortable with having a clear voice and vision.
  • Put yourself in the employees shoes to deliver the important messages.
  • We must nurture the human relationship side of the business.
Prepare your minds to be blown away in this episode. Listen and learn!

Kevin Patterson has served as Chief Executive Officer of Connect for Health Colorado since April of 2015. He previously served as chief administrative officer and interim chief of staff to Gov. John Hickenlooper and has an extensive history of public service. Kevin has served as the interim executive director of three state agencies during leadership transitions, the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Governor’s Energy Office. 

He brings a strong understanding of state government and stakeholder engagement to this role. Kevin has held leadership roles for the city and county of Denver in the Budget Office, the Planning Department, the Department of Human Services, the Department of General Services and the Department of Parks and Recreation. He was elected to the Denver Board of Education in 2001 and reelected in 2005. 

Kevin graduated with a B.A. in Teaching from Sam Houston State University and holds both a Master’s of Public Administration and a Master’s of Urban Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver.  He serves on the Denver Zoological Foundation’s Leadership Council, the Health subcommittee of the Rose Foundation, and serves as a board member on the Tennyson Center for Children and the Keystone Policy Center.

Clear and Aligned

I currently sit as the Chief Executive Officer for Connect for health, Colorado. We administer the Affordable Care Act, which means I’m the person in charge of Obamacare for Colorado.

It’s important in an organization that everybody’s clear. This is where we’re going to go. Get everybody on the same page, and then the song sounds right. If you’re on a different page, everybody’s not singing the same song. Then, it doesn’t sound right. Things must be aligned from the frontline person up to the CEO.

You can’t be your best self as an employee if you’re not sure which direction you’re supposed to be. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Communicative and Clear

I try to be very communicative and clear about expectations. I try my best not to micromanage. If you’re very clear about where you want them to end up by when, you don’t have to tell them to make three left turns to end up in the same place.

You have to be much more clear about what you want your outcome to be and about getting the vision to give context. It’s getting everybody to participate and describe the vision, and helping them get there. My job is to help block to make their job easier.

Also, it becomes important for us to have a cohort group. It is key because there’s a lot of times you can feel like you’re in it by yourself because there’s nobody that has the exact same job. There are similar ones, but not exactly the same. As they understand where pressure comes from, you don’t have to explain all to that group. They get it.

It’s also important to have questions.  Learn from your team and be able to listen. Sometimes the answers will come in conversations you’re going to have with other people. That is because they’re going to see it differently from the way you do. Somebody’s going to give you a perspective you did not have when you started.

You’ve got to be open to listen. You never know what one little piece is missing from the thousand-piece puzzle you needed to actually become clear on what the picture is. Be mindful and open to hearing.

We sometimes end up arguing so much about style points that we forget we're actually managing into the outcome. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetBe comfortable with whatever you're doing. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Interesting Connections

It’s funny. We spend all this time trying to grow up, to fit in, and to figure out a way not to be different than everybody else. But then, as you move on in life, you start figuring out that that’s actually what makes us really interesting people.

You see people when they become successful because you know there’s something different about them, that either gets people to follow, participate, or listen to them. Far too often we forget we’re dealing with humans. Humans are part of everything we do.

Again, we are dealing with humans. I’m always very mindful of who’s in front. You never know what a person hears. But, they’re going to have a perspective that you will never have because you’re sitting in an office.

So, you always have to make sure you’re talking to everybody in the organization to make sure you know what’s actually going on. No matter who you think they talk to, remember to connect with persons individually.

Look in the mirror and check if you're okay. If you're not, think about what you need to do differently so that you can look at yourself and be comfortable. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet It's important that you really have to know and understand yourself. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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