By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
William H. Considine, chief executive officer of Akron Children’s Hospital for 39 years, has written a book on leadership, a subject that he learned much about from the kids treated at the hospital.
Considine has incorporated much of that experience and knowledge in his book.
Considine said in a recent interview that patients treated at Akron Children’s keep him upbeat and fresh and hopeful about his job even after nearly half a century of watching kids face their illnesses, and sometimes early deaths, while somehow maintaining positive attitudes.
In the introduction to his book, Considine said: “It’s true that in our work we have periodic unhappy endings. But, we also witness miracles. All of us – staff, physicians, nurses, technicians, researchers and administrators – are professional healers. What we do is a mission rather than a job.”
He explained how patients influenced his style of management captured in “Leadership.”
“They [those children] show us the real world, where business strategy meets life. We are better people – and leaders – when these life decisions take their seat at strategy sessions. Patients ... and the people who care for them, teach me leadership lessons every day,” Considine said.
In chapter one of his 11-chapter, 103-page book, Considine offers his definition of leadership.
“Leadership at Akron Children’s embraces our heritage and tradition with a focus on service above self. Leadership captures being a role model, projecting a positive attitude, as well as being respectful, trustworthy, humble, caring, fair and responsible through your every action,” he wrote.
Considine has been CEO of Akron Children’s since 1979 and also served as it president until 2017. He remains CEO.
During his tenure, Considine has overseen exponential growth of the hospital while remaining involved in health care, educational and cultural groups at the local, state and national levels.
As one of the longest-serving hospital CEOs in the United States, Considine has overseen Akron Children’s as it has become the largest pediatric health-care provider in northern Ohio, with more than 1 million annual patient visits at two hospital campuses, one in Akron and Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley in Boardman, and more than 60 primary, specialty and urgent-care locations.
During that time, he said, he has listened to patients, families and staff and developing a style of leadership published in book-form in 2017. Its subtitle is “Lessons from Miracle Children.”
In a note from Jim Tressel at the front of the book, the Youngstown State University president praised the Considine family for community leadership.
Tressel said in part: “Society seems to suggest that leadership is a position one holds. However, the Considines believe that leadership is action taken to serve others.”
In his foreword to the book, the late Charles S. Lauer, former publisher of Modern Healthcare Magazine and friend of Considine’s, cites the example of a patient named Angie. Admitted to Akron Children’s at 9, she died at 13.
But during the short time Angie lived, Lauer said she touched Considine and many others with her positive attitude.
“Angie’s casual take on chemo and radiation was, ‘I have no time for bad hair days.’ You’d never know Angie was sick,” Considine said.
She made sun catchers, which she gave to staff and visitors.
“This remarkable child taught me a final lesson, directly related to a values-infused organization. When she died, she left behind two unfinished sun catchers. One hangs in my office, a constant reminder that our work will be never be done. Leadership advice doesn’t get any more practical than that,” Considine said.
“Like her sun catchers, she brought light into a room.”
“Leadership” may be purchased at the Akron Children’s Hospital gift shop for $15 or online at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com//0998020702?m=A1605UGSAFI0XZ . All proceeds benefit the Rebecca. D. Considine Research Institute at Akron Children’s Hospital.