When Greg Seiler arrives for work, he parks wherever he can find a space. For him, a special, reserved parking space would be an anathema, because his job is no more important than anyone else’s, he believes.
“I try to instill in all of the members of my staff that they are owners with a stake in this hospital—they don’t just rent their office for eight hours a day. So whether you see a visitor and escort him to where he needs to go, or you pick up a piece of litter on the floor instead of just walking by it, everything you do is important. We all have our role to play here, and we’re all in this together,” says Seiler.
For the past four years, Seiler has served as Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s CEO. These days, leadership is on his mind a lot, not only because he is head of the 1,100-employee hospital, but also because he is helping promote The Global Leadership Summit, a two-day event coming to Mission’s Palm Valley Church in August.
The event, which takes place Aug. 10-11, originates from the Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and will be transmitted live via satellite to Palm Valley Church as well as to hundreds of locations around the world. It will beam talks from a dozen powerhouse leaders, including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, author and business motivational speaker Jim Collins, Pulitzer Prize Winner Sheryl Wudunn, and many more.
According to Seiler, last year’s event was “the best leadership conference I’ve ever been to.” “Our management team was so blown away that, as soon as it was over, we said we can’t wait until next year,” he added.
Leadership is a very important topic to Seiler, who has devoted his career to working for HCA, the corporation that owns Rio Grande Hospital. Before returning to his home state of Texas to take his current post, he headed HCA’s Riverside Community Hospital in Southern California, and he also worked as a high-level hospital executive for HCA companies in San Antonio, Texas, and Panama City, Florida.
During that time, he honed a style of leadership that is serving him well, even during these times of uncertainty when hospitals across the country are awaiting word on what the Supreme Court will do vis-à-vis President Obama’s healthcare reform act. But it’s not only that—the economic recession and government spending cutbacks have hit hospitals hard, he notes. “This is a time of great change, and now, more than ever, it’s especially important to hold to the ‘bedrock issues,’ which means making sure we are providing excellent, high quality care, high patient satisfaction and high employee satisfaction,” he says.
When it comes to leadership, though, these are tenets that Seiler doesn’t just practice at the office, but he extends them to his home as well. This means living a healthy lifestyle. A runner since college, Seiler no longer does triathlons, but, he says, “I am still a runner, and, since my wife is also, I think we serve as examples to our children, and that’s already paying off. They see us maintaining a healthy lifestyle and they are more inclined to do it as well,” he says. Reagan, 15, his oldest daughter, is involved in high school basketball, volleyball and track, and Whitney, 12, is following in her sister’s track shoes.
They also make it a practice to eat healthy. Seiler belongs to Yahweh’s All Natural Farm and Garden, the local community garden. “Every week I go to the farmer’s market at Alhambra and I come home with a bag of produce. This past Saturday, it was tomatoes, onions, lettuce and a papaya. I went home and cleaned it up, and that became part of our meal.”
And that meal was taken at the table, the family all sitting together. “We eat together a lot. Studies show that eating together is one of the most important things you can do to have a close family, so my wife and I made the decision several years ago to do that as much as possible. It’s difficult sometimes, with volleyball practice, driver’s ed and everything else that comes up, but we think it’s very important,” he notes.
In addition, says Seiler, his faith is also an important component of his leadership philosophy. “A good Christian leader means you do hold people accountable for what they do, and it also speaks to humility and I think that ties in very well, because what you do, you do not for yourself, but for the wellbeing of the community,” he said.
With such a commitment to leadership, it’s no wonder that Seiler is making his mark on the hospital, not only with the staff, but he also makes it a point to include volunteers and everyone else associated with the hospital. “Leadership is important, and it’s no more important than at a hospital, because what we are involved with here are matters of life and death.”
By Charlotte Libov