Leadership Begins with Listening: View from the C-Suite with Rose Glenn, Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, Michigan Medicine
To find the right answers, ask the right questions.
// By Jane Weber Brubaker //
In the middle of the pandemic, Michigan Medicine launched a new brand campaign, Michigan Answers, spearheaded by Rose Glenn, the organization’s chief communications and marketing officer. In explaining the meaning of the campaign, the branding guidelines emphasize, “At Michigan Medicine, we believe there’s a difference between an answer and a Michigan Answer. Michigan Answers are found where more than 100 years of teaching, research and patient care intersect with an endless curiosity and passion for changing patients’ lives for the better. Michigan Answers come with confidence.”
The authority and conviction reflected in this statement are clear. But answers don’t materialize on their own. They come from a relentless commitment to asking the right questions and then listening with openness and humility.
These characteristics epitomize Glenn’s leadership style. She recently co-led “Humble Inquiry” executive rounding sessions with Marschall Runge, MD, CEO of Michigan Medicine. Humble Inquiry is “the skill and the art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” (Source: Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, Schein)
The purpose of the sessions was to respond to staff surveys that revealed some areas that needed improvement. “Communication was one of them,” Glenn says. “We saw a big opportunity to go out and talk to our frontline teams about how they are doing, what could we do to improve? When we ask the right questions, we can learn so much.”
Over the course of her 30-year career in health care, Glenn has cultivated a mindset of servant leadership. Here, we share highlights from our conversation and explore with her the challenges and opportunities of leadership in a major health system.