Self-awareness and leadership in the 21st century — a conversation with the CEO of Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery

For John Polikandriotis, PhD, CEO of Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery, self-awareness is a cornerstone of any effective leadership strategy. Dr. Polikandriotis' leadership approach seems to be yielding benefits across his organization's practices in Frisco, Vail and Edwards, Colo. 

In May, VSON received the American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives' Practice of the Year Award.

During Part II of the Becker's ASC Virtual Event on Oct. 14, Dr. Polikandriotis discussed his leadership strategy during a fireside chat.

Below is an excerpt of the conversation. To view the whole discussion, click here.

Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us in one way or another. To begin, can you talk a bit about how the pandemic has affected Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery? 

Dr. John Polikandriotis: We've had to pivot, just like every other company and organization out there. We've just had to shift from thinking about the normal business stuff — maximizing efficiency, expanding the business, etc., — to really just asking ourselves "okay, how do we get through today and tomorrow." We're not focused on a year or two from now, we're focused on safety tomorrow. We had to change how we work and how we communicate.

Q: How does self-awareness influence your approach to leadership?

JP: I think being so completely honest with yourself about what your strengths are, what your weakness are, what your hot buttons are, what your blind spots are and what you're passionate about — that's a necessary leadership skillset in the 21st century. If you know who you are, what you believe, what you're good at, what you're bad at, it really allows you to engage your staff in an honest way. Relationships are based on trust, and a company can't run successfully if the employees don't trust leadership. Trust comes from authenticity, and authenticity comes from just knowing who you are and being honest about it.

A leader without self-awareness is like having a car with no steering wheel. Sur, you can still go places, and you can go places fast, but there's going to be a lot of collateral damage. Self-awareness allows for control and direction. It allows you to be a better performer, a better communicator, a better influencer and it helps build stronger relationships. That's what leadership is all about.

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