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7 Questions on Leadership with Brandon Young

Name: Brandon Young

Title: Chief Executive Officer

Organisation: Select Specialty Hospital - Oakland

Brandon Young is currently serving as the CEO for Select Specialty Hospital – Oakland in Michigan. Brandon has 20 years of experience in healthcare, including specific experience in healthcare operations, process improvement, quality and safety, emergency medical services, project management, and emergency/disaster management for prehospital, acute care, mental health, outpatient, critical illness recovery, and ambulatory care settings. Brandon has had the opportunity to take low performing departments and hospitals and turn them around to produce improved clinical quality outcomes, patient satisfaction scores, and financial performance. Brandon holds an MBA, with a focus on Value Driven Organizations from Central Michigan University, as well as an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Services Administration from Baker College. Outside of the healthcare community, Brandon is married and has two young children and loves spending time with his family. He also loves outdoor activities such as sports, boating, hunting, and fishing.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Brandon's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Creating a culture that multiple generations can work together in as a team, despite their generational differences, which impacts the way each person works and thinks. Understanding organizational behaviors and being able to influence individuals differently to achieve the same team goal. Each person is working for a different reason than someone else on the team, and they require a different technique to motivate them. For example, maybe you have an employee that planned to retire soon and spend time with their spouse, but then they lose their spouse, which requires them to keep working. Then you have a young employee who still lives at home with their parents and is still figuring out what they want to do with their life. They are motivated differently, but as a leader you need to motivate them to achieve the same goal. That can be a challenge, but if you take the time to get to know them and provide personal attention and influence, you can do it and the rewards are worth it!

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I was given the opportunity to grow and develop by leaders who took a chance on me. They saw my potential and gave me an opportunity. I was a flight paramedic and was offered an administrative role. The difference in those two positions is dramatic. A paramedic finds the problem and fixes it quickly using technical skills. A leader identifies problems, but then has to use the power of influence to drive a team to see the issues and collectively fix them. Those approaches are very different and I had a lot to learn. My mentors took the time to teach me and they allowed me to make mistakes, while supporting me along the way to improve my leadership skills.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My morning starts by making sure I see my wife and children. Every morning I wake up to them is a blessing and I do not take that for granted. I make sure I let them know I love them, and give them a hug and a kiss before I leave out the door. Then my workday starts with calls and meetings with my leadership team to make sure we are on track for the day and to see if there is anything they need from me to be successful. I am a firm believer in trusting your team, not micromanaging them, and giving them the tools to be successful, then letting them do what they do best, and get out of their way. After that I round on my employees and our patients to see how their day is going. This allows me to stay connected to them and show them personal attention and gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude to them. I then take care of administrative things such as emails, report reviews, finances, etc. I end my day rounding again on my team, both leadership and frontline team members, to make sure they do not need anything before I leave. When I get home, its family time! I talk with my boys to see how their school day was. I talk with my wife about her day, and then we have dinner together as a family. The rest of the evening is dedicated to our family by relaxing together, playing with each other, or worshiping together, as we are dedicated Christians and are very thankful to our God Jehovah for the blessings he provides us.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

COVID 19 reminded me that people do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. In the healthcare field, finding nurses during and after COVID 19 has been very tough. That can have a negative impact on your team and culture. Recruiting and retaining team members is a challenge. At first, we may think its all about the money to recruit and retain. I was reminded that it is about how we make people feel. I have had the privilege to recruit and retain an amazing team. When you ask them why they came to our team, they said because they felt wanted and respected, and they wanted to be part of something good. This reminded me that caring about people and making them feel valued is more important that an hourly rate of pay for many.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The bible. Although I read other leadership books, the bible has had the most profound impact on me as a leader. Verses like Proverbs 27:17 - "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens his friend." This helps me to appreciate the importance or teamwork to be successful instead of individual performance. Also Ephesians 4:32 "But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you." Kindness and compassion are a lost art these days. So I remind myself to lead with it, and to support my team if they make a mistake, as I am also imperfect and need support as well. Principles like these have really helped me to become a better leader.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Be authentic and have the attitude of training your replacement! Today, many people are consumed by their title, as if their title defines them as a person. It doesn't, we define ourselves. I always tell my leadership team to leave their titles in their car. Be yourself, and lead with behaviors that influence people to do good and to feel good. If you can show your team that you truly care about them, and you prove that by supporting and developing them, they will run through a brick wall for you.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I had the privilege in one of my roles to lead the Environmental Services Department in a large hospital during COVID 19. During a time of so much uncertainty, they kept us safe. Although not clinicians, they held the key to keeping all of us safe by maintaining a clean environment. After that year, I submitted them to be considered the Henry Ford Health System Quality Award, and they won. The look on their faces when they saw that they won, is a look I will never forget. They felt appreciated, were proud they made a difference, and knew they made a difference by playing a role in saving lives. I will never forget that moment and they way it made me feel. That's why I love being a leader.

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