Dr. Jeff Thompson shares his philosophy of values based leadership and shows you how to do good in business while also doing well.

JEFF THOMPSON, MD, is executive advisor and chief executive officer emeritus at Gundersen Health System, pediatrician, author, and speaker on values-based leadership.

Jeff’s experience in leadership is far-reaching, having led diverse teams, projects, and divisions, before holding multiple senior executive roles, including fourteen years as a CEO responsible for a staff of seven thousand, hundreds of thousands of patients, and a billion dollars of the community’s money within the Gundersen Health System. His long experience as intensive care pediatrician and senior executive has shown him over and over again how leading from one’s values has the power to affect long-term meaningful change.

Podcast Highlights

  • Who is Jeff Thompson?

Jeff Thompson is a husband of 38 years, the father of three children, and his early goal was to get into medical without debt. From the time he was little, Jeff knew he wanted to be a doctor so he worked as a janitor to pay his way through medical school.

Jeff’s mother was an early inspiration and model for values based leadership, despite not having the usual characteristics we think leaders would have.

  • What skillsets did you develop that helped you lead?

Everyone in an organization is important. As a leader, you should facilitate the people who work for you and learn what they need to perform at a high level.

Even with a distributed workforce, you need to have a structure and a purpose for your organization. Money is not enough to attract good people.

  • How do we do good and do well at the same time?

You must have a disciplined disregard for conventional wisdom. Don’t throw away everything, but not all wisdom is equal. Leading with values will raise the whole level of the organization over the long term.

Finances are a tool, not the goal. By having the goal of improving the health and financial well being of the community, Jeff managed to attract many partners that wanted the same thing.

More people die of air pollution related illness than HIV and malaria combined. By starting with environmental conservation, Jeff managed to save significant amounts of money every year after the initiative while also serving the community.

  • How do you deal with resistance?

The proof is in the numbers. Careful measurement of the effects of your values based policy is the disciplined part of disregarding conventional wisdom.

Short term thinking is one of the biggest problems in the country today. Live your values and follow through.

  • What is the first step for entrepreneurs who want to lead with their values?

You have to be very clear about your values and what you want to accomplish. People will change jobs because of the values that are exemplified. Start with your values and then look for partners who share them.

The numbers are a tool to serve your higher purpose. The smaller the organization, the easier it is to set the tone you want.

Reference: Lead True: Live Your Values, Build Your People, Inspire Your Community, Dr. jeff Thompson

  • Jeff’s Takeaway

Sit down and write out a purpose statement of why your company exists and what you really want to accomplish. Set out four to six values that you are going to live by. Then sit down with your leadership and staff and let them advise you on how to get from where you are now to where you want to go.



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