Bernard Tyson, President & COO, Kaiser Permanente

Bernard has passion in his heart that lights a fire in those around him. It’s the kind of passion that emanates from a person who’s doing the work he’s truly meant to do. At the core, Bernard is someone driven to help others. The path he’s chosen to make his contribution is fraught with big, complex issues that no one leader can solve alone: He and his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente are working to provide the highest quality health care available, while making it accessible and affordable to as many people as possible. It’s a big job that will take a lot of heart (and guts!) to accomplish. Luckily, Bernard knows he’s not alone on the journey.

June 2015

Most organizations have a mission statement. You know what we’re talking about…the carefully crafted words you see on posters in conference rooms. What makes Kaiser Permanente’s mission remarkable is that it lives beyond the words. It’s internalized by more than 175,000 employees and 16,500 Permanente Group physicians across the U.S. And that is not happenstance or the result of a slick internal marketing campaign. Rather, it is the direct result of Bernard and others at Kaiser Permanente creating the space for every employee to recognize and act upon his or her own leadership. Bernard’s work to mobilize leaders all the way to the more than 3,000 Unit-Based Teams to solve real problems on the front lines of care is a striking and practical example of how you can awaken leadership at all levels in your organization to make good on your purpose.

On A Committed Workforce (1:29)
When you are working with a workforce who clearly are exhibiting the commitment to what we're trying to accomplish, people are more creative, there's higher levels of energy and there's more of a willingness to go the extra mile for the good of the whole of what we're trying to create.
On Communication and Feedback (2:03)
I think it's very important that you stay in touch with what might be the gap of how you are perceiving the world and how the world in fact is interpreting how things are going. That gives us a great sense of what's going on.
On Corporate Character and Storytelling (2:09)
We very much believe that healthcare should be affordable and accessible to everyone. There are stories that we tell inside of our organization that reinforces that all the time. Stories that go all the way back to Henry J. Kaiser, one of our founders of Kaiser Permanente.
On Corporate Culture and Connecting to Purpose and Mission (2:09)
Our mission is to do a couple of things and do it very well. To provide the highest quality care possible. Make it accessible to as many people as possible and make it affordable.
On Creating an Environment for Listening and Feedback (2:15)
In my case it requires me to go out and go across the organization and go in to environment and where -- in which a lot of the time I'm listening and paying attention to what people are saying -- and what they have to offer. When people write me I respond.
On Creating an Environment That Fosters Leadership (3:13)
It's not enough for me to go out there and just say I want leadership throughout the organization. They must be given the recognition and supported.
On Empowering Employees Closest to the People You Serve (2:00)
And so one of my challenges and greater opportunities is to figure out how to create the right environment where leaders can lead. And you know someone said to me a long time ago, "a leader without followers is just a person taking a walk."
On Labor & Management (1:55)
We have grown in many of our markets because of the support and sponsorship of labor in those markets encouraging and inviting their members to consider Kaiser Permanente as a place to get care. And so, it starts with a, foundation in which we have had respect for each other and mutual interest.
On Unleashing Leadership at All Levels Through Employee Teams (2:00)
I think before you get there the starting point is the philosophical belief that you have around – what is it that you really want to gain in, in my case from a hundred and seventy-five thousand people who come here every single day to make a difference at Kaiser Permanente?
On Valuing Respect and Diversity (1:50)
We have an extremely diverse workforce that represents all walks of life. And so, we believe as part of our value system that we have to treat men and women as men and women and be respectful that there are differences.
On What It Means to "Let Go and Lead" (2:36)
I have no need to try to control the environment. I have no need to try to control information. I have no need to consume power that is not going to help people get what they need to get done for the good of the organization and the mission.