Building Trust and Knowing Who You Serve (PODCAST)

Varied leadership experiences translated well to healthcare

Paul Matsen was a C-suite executive reporting to the CEO of Delta Airlines when he was recruited for the position of Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Cleveland Clinic. The new role was also a C-suite position reporting to the CEO. But Matsen almost immediately noticed that the dynamics of healthcare leadership were undeniably different from the corporate world.

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“It struck me really early on here that the … the chair of the heart and vascular institute, the chair of the urological institute or the cancer institute are all far more important to the organization than I am,” Matsen says. “I’m here to serve them, not the other way around.”

In a conversation with Brian Bolwell, MD, for the podcast “Beyond Leadership: At the Intersection of Leadership and Everything Else,” Matsen credits his corporate world experience, as well as strong direction from Cleveland Clinic leaders, for helping hone insights that serve him in healthcare marketing and communications. In addition to Delta, Matsen previously worked at Young & Rubicam, a global advertising and communications company, where his clients included the U.S. Army, General Foods and AT&T. He joined Cleveland Clinic in 2006.

Podcast excerpt

Dr. Bolwell:  You gave a couple examples of leading without having direct authority. How did you do that? How did you influence people when you really didn’t have any direct authority over them, but it was important to do so for the greater good of the project or the overall plan?

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Paul Matsen:  In the advertising business in Young and Rubicam, we had a great process for management of creative ideas and prided ourselves on being a place that could manage creative processes and creative people to produce really good outcomes.

We went through a strategy process on every project. My favorite part of it was called the SSO, the strategy selection outline. As a team, it required us to sit down and think about what were the strategic alternatives – not just go to one idea, but to actually lay out and document the strategic alternatives, the pros and cons. Before we would ever get to the client with a recommendation, we went through that process of challenging ourselves. And then of course you could take it farther with research and analytics. A lot of people think that in marketing, somebody’s off in a room and they get hit on the head and have a brilliant idea. And that does happen. I mean, when you see a great creative idea, it’s an incredible moment. But a lot of it comes out of a great process as well, and including a lot of different ideas and perspectives, and not everybody’s comfortable with that. But keeping that process moving was important.