Trust Starts with Follow-Through (Podcast)

Authenticity ‘engenders trust from the people that you're leading’

At Cleveland Clinic London, Richard Cohen, MD, is a colorectal surgeon, Chair of the Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute, and Deputy Medical Director. Dr. Cohen also holds a position with the National Health Service (NHS) at University College Hospital in London, where he is Professor of Surgery.

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In an interview with Brian Bolwell, MD, for the podcast series “Beyond Leadership: At the Intersection of Leadership and Everything Else,” Dr. Cohen addresses the vital role that authenticity plays in successful leadership – and that inauthenticity reveals itself in an instant.

 “I think people can immediately smell a whiff of lack of authenticity,” Dr. Cohen says. “It comes across quite quickly.”

Being authentic means, in part, following through on commitments. “If people know that what they see is what they get, that engenders trust from the people that you’re leading,” he adds. “I try and be open and transparent. If you tell someone you’re going to try and do something to help them, you’ve got to … show that you’ve at least tried, if not succeeded, in whatever it was that you were trying to do.”

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Podcast excerpt
Dr. Bolwell: How did your career start? Ultimately, why did you decide to join Cleveland Clinic? On the one hand, it’s a very unique opportunity to build something from scratch. On the other hand, it’s very different than the NHS model that provides most of the healthcare in the UK.

Dr. Cohen: In October of last year, UCL, which is the university associated with UCH, made me a professor of surgery. I managed to pull the wool over their eyes and persuade them to do that. In the mix of all that, about in 2019, I got a call to say, “Would I like to come and see the Cleveland Clinic?” They were just setting up in London.

Obviously, every clinician in the UK has heard of the Cleveland Clinic. … I came and I met this chap called Tommaso (Falcone, MD; Chief of Staff and Chief Academic Officer of Cleveland Clinic London), this sort of odd gentleman who semi-enthusiastically took me through a PowerPoint presentation of what Cleveland Clinic values were all about. I sat there thinking, “Wow. All my life, I’ve tried to provide care in this fashion, and here these people are coming over here and they’re doing it.” And so, I said, “Well, A) I’ll be very interested in joining. And, B) I’ll be very interested in being involved in setting it all up.”