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A Presidential Meeting To Remember

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By Ebony Perkins, on August 6, 2012

In a mere few months, I have experienced much and have met many influential public servants across South Carolina.  I had another enlightening experience recently when I had the privilege of meeting Mr. John Singerling, President of the Palmetto Health system.  We first met via e-mail when Mr. Singerling found one of my blog postings online and shared it with other members of the Palmetto Health family.  During my professional work experience, I gained much respect for him as both a person and administrator and scheduled a one-on-one meeting.   We spoke for approximately thirty-five minutes about various topics including his professional journey, academic preparation, leadership advice, and what he looks for in an executive leadership team.

Mr. Singerling currently oversees the operational performance and corporate duties for the system’s three hospitals across the Midlands.  He explained that his prior roles as administrative resident, a strategic planner, and Vice-President of Operations all prepared him for his current position because he learned much about the operations of the hospital system and how to ensure it operates efficiently.   While Vice-President of Operations, he set a 3-year goal to be in the top 10% of places to work, a goal that appeared nearly impossible to achieve based on the employees’ satisfaction rates.  He accomplished this goal by replacing low performing employees with high performers, and making sure the culture was one that encouraged growth while expressing his gratitude and appreciation to employees.

In addition to sharing his professional journey with me, Mr. Singerling offered leadership lessons that can be used in any organization or work environment.  He said that good leaders should set aggressive goals.  He explained that organizations only grow by setting aggressive goals and stretching themselves by aiming to achieve them.  He also advised we set high expectations for those we lead.  We should have faith in our workforce and know they have the capacity to perform at a high level.  Not only should we lead others based on our experiences, but we should research leaders across the world, understand their leadership styles, and incorporate those lessons into our daily routine. Mr. Singerling suggested the following list of literature for future public leaders:

  • 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  • Good to Great by James C. Collins
  • Built to Last by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras
  • The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore

When searching for an executive leadership team, Mr. Singerling has a list of personal characteristics he believes are necessary when operating the Palmetto Health System.  He told me he always aims to have members of his team that the employees can trust.  The organization’s leaders must always be authentic and truthful, but, most importantly a leader must be able to relate to people.  I vividly recall Mr. Singerling discussing the importance of storytelling when leading others.  He explained that people may not always recall every lesson or piece of advice you offer them, but you can relate to them through storytelling because they will usually identify with the stories and remember their impact.

This meeting with Mr. John Singerling was truly educational and enlightening.  It was a privilege to have a one-on-one conversation with the president of a local hospital system and I appreciate the time he took out of his extremely busy schedule to speak with a young, aspiring public servant.  I learned much from our conversation and appreciate not only the advice he offered, but other outlets and literature I can refer to for other lessons.   Thank you Mr. Singerling for the lessons, words of advice, and encouragement!

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