In a separate take on that famously historic post-Nixon President Gerald R. Ford quote…
Blount County’s long, community nightmare is over.
It’s a new day… with feelings of euphoria for many, driven by a singular headline:
Read the full article here by The Daily Times reporter Mariah Franklin, whose journalism throughout this odyssey has been critically essential in keeping our community informed (a huge case for supporting one’s local community newspaper!).
- CEOs drive organizational culture that can either help or harm an entire community… and as the late management consultant Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Ultimately, it didn’t matter what kind of super-top-double-secret-probation strategy this CEO planned to unleash, in claiming to bring his organization into hopes of future financial solvency (which, of course, never happened).
The culture he lorded over was beyond toxic, and – but for his loyal “Nothing to see here!” sycophants – practically everyone knew it.
If a CEO consistently fails to drive and support a positive organizational culture of treating all people with dignity, respect, inclusiveness, and basic fairness – as opposed to secrecy, tyranny, fear, disinformation, and retaliation – then that CEO has no business being CEO.
So that’s Learning #1.
2. When scores – if not hundreds – of current and former employees of an entity report deep misogyny and egregious incidents of workplace verbal / emotional abuse by certain members of executive management… BELIEVE THEM.
I myself experienced this very culture and this treatment first-hand while trying to serve as an unpaid volunteer fiduciary board member for the organization’s separate charitable entity.
When I pushed back on misconduct by voicing concerns internally, I was “shushed” and told to be silent.
When I went public to protest the same documented incidents of misconduct, I was admonished as “unsupportive” and then literally was threatened.
I certainly didn’t require that experience in order to hear and believe the testimonies of multiple women who contacted me privately to report what they were experiencing or had experienced.
It’s sad that it required my taking my own story and my documented experiences / observations to the pages of my local community newspaper, The Daily Times – which graciously published them, in service to community access to information – in order to nudge forward the embarrassingly obvious change desperately needed in the c-suite (although my story composed only one micro-sliver of the overarching rationale for change).
But difficult and expensive it has been… and will be.
Cue the coming-to-Jesus among the power brokers about core governance problems that may still remain and thus require fine-tuning — if not all-out audit and reform — to prevent future obstructions and manipulations that have no place in service to our community.
These elected officials wisely knew precisely who – and what – they were dealing with, and, to their great credit, they never took their feet off the accelerator to stand up and challenge more than one serial bully and obstructionist creating gridlock.
3. To that point, governance matters.
What is “governance”?
Well, it’s not really the people who are in charge at any given time… it’s the CORE SYSTEMS in place that transcend personalities – via written rules, bylaws, policies, procedures – that either allow or disallow all-out tomfoolery, such as what our community has borne witness to and suffered through, for nearly the past two years.
With that said, this whole other thing really needs to go… of certain individuals having so much self-appointed power that they get to grade their own homework with impunity while accusing good-faith community members of “hate” or being “hateful” simply for asking logical questions and reporting clearly observed misconduct.
As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” to expose conflicts of interest, among other things.
We need a continued healthy dose of sunlight-laden disclosure and transparency in order for Blount County’s public trust to be re-earned anew for the institution in question.
I have confidence that – as our local government authorities continue to drive change on this entity’s governing board by individuals who actually understand what behaviors earn trust (versus behaviors that obliterate it) – we’ll see positive governance reforms move forward.
4. Having more than zero women on the governing board of a community’s largest healthcare entity (or, for ANY entity) also matters.
About this time a year ago, such was the case for Blount County’s largest healthcare entity: no women on the board of directors.
It’s riveting to me that such a dug-in status-quo mentality – as per the two curious board-vote abstentions reported just this morning – endured straight to the very end of this mismanagement saga, by two men of those remaining of the board’s “old guard.”
And while we’re on the subject, why did these two men opt out of their duty yesterday as board members to register a vote — either “yay” or “nay” — on the CEO tendering his own resignation?
Ok… I’ll ask it again:
While I wait around for eternity for any logical explanation to this question called out into the wilderness, there’s this larger point:
Meaningful change in this situation only came about when the community’s government authorities finally overcame significant “old guard” obstruction to appoint – with great gnashing of teeth by the blessedly-now-soon-to-be-former CEO – several women to this board.
These women ultimately made not just a difference, but THE difference.
5. NEWSFLASH: People apparently become a “trained psychiatrist” for wildly different motivations.
I did not know this!
Most do it in order to enter a career of honest, good-faith service… in actually helping people.
But by all appearances, a few apparently do it in order to learn how to spend their non-psychiatry careers… manipulating people.
While revelatory, in my own naïveté I must also admit that among all five of these learnings that I’ve cited here, this is the one that – to me – is the most chilling of this particular nightmare.
Mary Beth West, APR, FPRCA, served as vice-chair of the Blount Memorial Foundation for four years and was retaliated against after voicing concerns in Q3 2022 about the Foundation’s audit as per its financial practices and non-compliance with bylaws then being mandated by the Blount Memorial Hospital CEO, related to internal control.
Her columns in The Daily Times reporting documented concerns about Blount Memorial Hospital governance and management issues since September 2022 included the following:
Mary Beth West: You might have a governance problem if … (December 21, 2022)
Mary Beth West: New BMH ‘poll’ baked-in bias? (March 18, 2023)
Mary Beth West: Blount Memorial Foundation in crisis (August 26, 2023)