So how does Edwards, the leader of a major regional health system, manage a crisis while also maintaining future projects? He says there’s always room for opportunity. While some departments are tackling the local impact of the pandemic head-on, others are facing forward and working on developments that will carry CoxHealth forward once COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror.
Edwards and his staff also look for ways to fill the gaps, even when the solution is out of the norm. Case in point: When Dr. Terrence Coulter, a pulmonologist at CoxHealth, told Edwards about the defeat some frontline nurses were experiencing, Edwards looped in the marketing department to “plant” metal tulips for every recovered COVID-19 patient. He also enlisted staff members to get the needed approval to play The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” every time a COVID-19 patient is discharged or taken off a ventilator.
He was Built for This
“I think so many people in health care are drawn to a crisis circumstance,” Edwards says. “They are wired that way. They are prepared for it.” Edwards is a planner, so much so that before he was 20 years old he had outlined a detailed spreadsheet that documented both his professional and personal goals. Some of these—like serving on Drury University’s Board of Trustees and becoming the leader of CoxHealth—he’s already achieved. Others—like owning a fishing cabin and learning to play the bagpipes—he’s set aside for now.
Overall, Edwards works well with structure. He’s always thinking of the endgame and the next step that will take him to where he wants to be, which is a part of what makes him so successful. During the webinar, Edwards said this mindset was ingrained in him at a young age. He said when he played sports growing up, he was usually the smallest kid on the team. During practices and various workouts, he remembered his fellow teammates would “fake it” or wouldn’t push through. “I had this mindset [that] ‘I’m going to always pretend that the coach is looking,’” Edwards said. “Because maybe there’s that one day where he sees you are working hard.”
When asked to share a “failed it” moment, Edwards rejected the idea, instead saying that failures are “just things that haven’t happened yet.” It’s the things he hasn’t done yet, the goals not yet marked off on his spreadsheet, that he regrets the most.
Save the date for our next B-School on April 8, 2021.