Leading the Future of Health Care
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Published on May 17, 2019

Deanna Larson, CEO Avera eCARE in front of computer monitors

Leading the Future of Health Care

Deanna Larson works in a forward-thinking and ever-changing environment as CEO of Avera eCARE®, a world-renowned leader in virtual health care.

She began her career as a nurse and moved into management positions over the years, with an understanding that a great leader knows when to step back and let the team learn and when to step in to help them thrive.

Here’s more about what she’s learned over the years.

What are some traits of a good leader?

Early on at St. Mary’s Hospital, where I started my leadership career, I recognized the importance of teaching and working with other young nurses to advance their careers. Later in my career at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center and Avera Health, I continued the focus of providing education and training opportunities for others. It is a great accomplishment to watch individuals experience growth and become confident in new leadership roles.

It takes a lot of self-awareness and restraint to not jump in and give your team all the answers. It takes good leadership to step back and allow them to develop solutions and answers themselves. So, your work becomes developing people, helping them to be successful, verses a direct patient care provider.

Another important trait is simple but hard — and that is the ability to be quiet and listen carefully to those who report to you. Ask them what the issue is and what do they think the solutions might be.

What advice do you have for men and women hoping to move into management?

When you come into a job, do your best work and see opportunities where things can be improved. Don’t be satisfied with good enough if you have ideas about making something better. Be sure you are speaking up and being vocal with ideas and solutions.

How about life/work balance? How do you find the time for fun with the demands of work?

If you really enjoy your work it can be difficult not to put work as a first priority in your life. Think about the balance you want in your life. My mantra is: faith first, family second and work third. When I’m struggling to meet demands I can go back to that mantra to figure where I am out of balance.

If the first priorities are out of balance, that is — faith and family — then I can’t be my best at work. When work takes time away from faith and family, things can get misaligned and I feel distracted and distraught.

You work in an innovative field. How does that play a part in good leadership?

Being a leader who encourages innovation means you’re going to be very open to new things, new ideas and new ways of doing things. Somebody is going to throw something out there that seems really unbelievable. As a leader, you have to be willing to listen to those new ideas and try to see the whole picture so you can understand the opportunity and give the innovation a chance. It has a lot to do with being open to risk taking and being OK with making a mistake – calling a mistake a learning experience and moving on. What leaders who embrace innovation do best is help their team navigate change to make these wild dreams a reality.

Deanna’s Recommended Reading

  • “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek
  • “Serve to Lead: 21st Century Leaders Manual” by James Strock
  • “Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders” by L. David Marquet

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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