What moves good managers and employees to provide transformational leadership?

One six-hospital healthcare system in North Carolina with approximately 10,000 employees finds that empowering employees and creating an inclusive environment are key ingredients to inspiring leadership.

A system-wide transformation began when Tim Rice, CEO of Cone Health, and his team redefined their values and set some audacious goals that would require more than “business as usual” management.

Several years ago, seeing the coming changes in the healthcare industry, Rice and his team committed to being in the top percentage nationally on all quality measures by 2015.

At the core of Rice’s vision and goals is a patient care orientation.

So far, here are just a few of the results Cone Health’s transformational leadership team has accomplished:

  • An employee engagement increase of 51% to 87% over one year
  • An employee turnover decrease from 14% to 10%
  • Heart failure readmission rate down from 21% to 13.3% over one year

What makes for true empowerment?

Saying you are out to empower people to lead is one thing–actually empowering them is something else. And in an industry known for its hierarchical management structures and functional silos, this is a tall order.

Four steps Cone has taken to empower and inspire people to lead:

  • Increasing the focus on developing communication skills.
  • Shifting the culture through motivating everyone at Cone Health to participate and envision an extraordinary future.
  • Engaging physician leadership through a newly created physician leadership academy. They are integrally involved in leading the new strategy.
  • Redesigning Cone Health’s model for leadership competency and development to sustain having more new leaders over time.


Working together in this way, as many people as possible at Cone Health are now developing new capabilities for an unprecedented future.


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