Transcript for Beyond the Stethoscope Vital Conversations with SHP Episode 7 – Applicable Leadership Tips & the Art of Feedback | Kristin Woodlock

In this episode, Jason shares a report that shows that hospital safety improved prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but did the pandemic erase all our progress? And Aaron shares how workers in all sectors are taking more sick time, but not for the reasons you might think.

Then, we both sat down with Kristin Woodlock, CEO of Woodlock & Associates. For years, Kristin has worked with healthcare organizations as both an advocate and a champion for behavioral health. Kristin now helps organizations work through complex decision-making challenges and develop better methods of communication. We dive into the realm of leadership. In particular with regard to leading during a time of change and innovation.  We further discuss the art of feedback and how best to manage such and develop as a core skill set within your organization.


Jason’s News

Aaron’s News


Kristin can be found on




Production Assistance & Editing: Nyla Wiebe

Scripting by: Aaron C Higgins

Show Notes & Transcription: Aaron C Higgins

Social Media Management: Jeremy Miller & Nyla Wiebe

News Co-Hosts: Aaron C Higgins & Jason Crosby

Interview hosts: Jason Crosby & Aaron C Higgins

Executive Producers: Mike Scribner & John Crew


Jason Crosby

Hey, everyone. I’m Jason Crosby. If strategic HealthCare Partners and your host along with Aaron Higgins, welcome to Beyond the Stethoscope Vital Conversations with SHP.

Jason Crosby

Today we are joined by Kristin Woodlock, CEO, Woodlock and Associates. Kristen, thank you for joining us today and welcome to the podcast.

Kristin Woodlock

Ohh thank you Jason and Aaron. It’s terrific to be with you. I’m really excited to join this effort.

Aaron Higgins

Yeah, Kristin, we’re really excited to have you here. A few months ago for the listening audience, SHP invited Kristen to come and speak to our organization. We were kind of facing a crossroads as we were determining some of our path going forward as a company. And Kristen really spoke to us and where we were at.

No, that’s terrific, right.

Aaron Higgins

Yeah. How to make some really difficult, complicated decisions in the process going into that and we got so much out of her, we had to share her with the rest of the world. So yeah, Kristin, thank you for joining us. So, let’s jump right in. Yeah, so.

Obviously, you talk to our company about change, and you know we’re in changing times, right? We we’re just coming out of the COVID pandemic, and the world is suddenly new.

Umm, so how can companies really understand the difference between the leading innovation in their space and then change ‘cuz we hear that all the time, leaders of innovation, what does that mean and how can a company understand that?

Kristin Woodlock

That’s a great questionnaire and I I think this is so important, I have to tell you, you know, I’ve been, I’ve been doing work in the field for well over 30 years in a variety of places. And I would tell you a year ago I would have said, well, there really isn’t a material difference between change and innovation. You need the same set of skills, maybe use them differently. And then I bumped into the work of Doctor Linda Hill from Harvard and she really changed my thinking on this and what she brings forth. I think this is just so important for teams right now and in any kind of organization is that.

Change when you’re doing change. You really have a clear sense of what you’re trying to do, so I think sort of for people who are in our space, the simplest example is like we’re going to have a new electronic health record or we’re going to have a new payment system, right? We know what it is. We know when it’s gonna work. We, you know, we know all of these various things. And what I’m trying to do as a leader in my organization is be clear on, you know, what it is we’re doing and create followership to that. But it’s pretty, you know, there’s a pathway for it. And I think most people will tell you if you used an electronic health record, it’s not always linear. But like, we know what it is. We know how we do that.

Innovation is just really different and I do think after the pandemic, this is where we are and so we don’t necessarily have that really clear vision and what but what we do have is a purpose. We have that that why statement. If you follow Simon Sinek, we have a you know that noble purpose. This is why we exist and this is what we’re doing and leaders who are doing innovation are really clear in that and are able to bring their teams forward to really think about a codesign process, right where it’s.

It’s rooted and shared understanding of our purpose and then a shared understanding of each of the various roles within the organization. And you’re really trying to inspire that team to do that differently. And I I think you know and I I know you both have, you know, have huge leadership roles thinking I don’t have a vision as a pretty scary thing. But I I think if we’re, if we’re honest and we reflect on where we are post pandemic, I think there’s so much opportunity for innovation, but we can’t necessarily have a blueprint that’s really specific.

And at the same level of specificity with our electronic health record. So you know, thinking about those two things differently, thinking about the code design of innovation and thinking about also being really clear on your purpose are our key strategies for leaders who are thinking about innovation.

Aaron Higgins

I would say that the most daunting thing a leader has is where to begin, and I think that’s where we were at earlier this spring when you met with us, we were looking at this mountain. We weren’t sure First off, we want we knew we wanted to get to the peak, but we didn’t even know where the trail began. So I guess tell me about what you do. How does your organization help people find that trailhead?

Kristin Woodlock

So the first thing is to really come up with that purpose. And you know what’s interesting is sometimes I’ll talk to groups and say, well, we have a mission statement and I have yet there. There may be somebody in the audience who’s had the benefit of this, but I have yet to go work with an organization where people can tell me their mission statement verbatim. You know, it’s on the website. It’s somewhere maybe they get a couple of words. I can’t tell you how many times people like, I don’t really know.

So that that to me is an artifact of the past, we really need to give our teams and our whole organization that noble purpose. Why do we exist and we shouldn’t be afraid of that. We should be able to dig deep on that and say, you know, look, maybe we don’t need to exist, right. What is it that really is special about us and just to illustrate that, I mean there are there are many wise statements that you can find by using Google and typing in why statements but two that really stick with me. One is Google’s.

Which is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Like anybody at Google has a chance of repeating that right? And like that can be an organizing principle, whether you are the CEO or whether you’re the last person hired to say, like, that’s what I want you doing in your role when you’re thinking about what’s the little cute art, artistic rendition of Google that we’re gonna put on today, I want you thinking about that purpose statement, right. It just, it just creates some glue for organizations. Somebody in my space and in working in the mental health space.

Used a why statement of people get better with us and it was just phenomenally helpful for the organization during the the COVID pandemic this group was in New York City, epicenter of the pandemic. People were out all over the city and the one thing that they had when they didn’t have any other information on COVID was that my purpose at this organization is that people are gonna get better with us. So what do I have to do for that? OK, I’ve gotta. I’ve gotta make sure that we are washing our hands. I’ve got to make sure that they have milk. I’ve got to make sure it just creates the glue and the stickiness. So.

First up is really go through that process to come up with your purpose and it’s, you know, it’s not a mission statement, right? It’s something repeatable. It’s your essence of why you exist and it it really helps you to think about that, that innovation front that we were talking about before.

Aaron Higgins

OK, so let’s dial it in a little bit more. Obviously, there’s the big, the big vision statements, the corporate vision statements. What about me as a leader within the company? Maybe I’m starting a big project or something along those lines. How can we take those bigger idea principles and shrink them down to a more individual basis?

Kristin Woodlock

So what? What is different? I think if you were on this path of you, you know your purpose, your, your, you know you’re in the innovation, Layne. A couple of things you need as a project leader, not even just the CEO, but a project leader we need to socialize within our organization if we are taking the innovation path, we have to understand that that you know failures face plants, things don’t go as planned as part of the price of admission to doing innovation because we are we are experimenting, we’re learning, we’re figuring that out now that’s not.

I’m not talking catastrophic error but really saying in the spirit of innovation, we’re gonna make some mistakes. We’re gonna have to, you know, back the car up and go a different direction and know that going into it, that’s something that’s really important. I think for project leads. And I think different, right, that that may be another cultural element that you need to to really give to your teams. The other is really skilling up and having and having what could be tough conversations around the innovation, right. The innovation may mean we stop doing something.

The innovation may mean that our fiscal department has to support the physicians differently going forward, right? So they’re in this innovation. We need to make sure that we have actually skilled up our folks in how do you not tap out of conversations when they get hard? How do you help people through when they’re sort of stuck and we’ve always done it that way, you know, and how do we really, really follow this moniker of clear as kind, right that we are so often taught and told and raised to say that you know you just.

You just don’t say anything if it’s not nice, don’t say anything, right? We. I’m just so nice and polite. But the reality and in this in this business environment and in innovation, we have to be able to give each other feedback and we have to be able to really talk to people about what’s going right and what’s going wrong and what we oftentimes do is we tap out because it gets uncomfortable physiologically and we end up going to somebody else and talking about that person. Right. So clear as kind means as we’re as we’re on this innovation project, we are clear about what our roles are.

We’re clear about how we’re going to move forward and if you know, if we are drifting a bit, we want somebody to be able to come back to the project lead and say I’m not sure we’re on track. And let me tell you why.

Jason Crosby

Well, you, you hit on what probably was my favorite portion of your presentation to our firm, Kristin. Honestly clear is kind and it’s something we have actually talked about quite a bit, quite honestly since that presentation, so…

Aaron Higgins

Yeah, it’s come up multiple times.

Jason Crosby

It’s come up multiple times and from staff all the way up to our principal.

Kristin Woodlock

For who?

Jason Crosby

Because as you mentioned, sometimes with there’s hesitation And delivering a message that may sound confrontational of sorts, right? So if you don’t mind go a little bit more into. Clear as kind, unclear is unkind. What you would tell a new leader when they feel like it’s an obstacle to communicate in such a way? Dive a little bit deeper into there, if you will.

Kristin Woodlock

Sure, sure. So you know, I think when we think about this, so clear as kind does not mean you know Jason, that you and I are debriefing a meeting that we had, you know earlier today and I come in and I say like you were a real jerk in that meeting, right? You just talked over everybody. You didn’t give, you know, like man, you’re intrusive and it just it just killed the whole project, right. That might be clear, but it is not. It is not serving the work so. So clear is kind to me means.

As a as a good team member where regardless of my hierarchical position in an organization, is a good team member, I’m committed to serving the work and I’m committed to sharing feedback in a way that is that’s focused on that work because I want it to work. I want us to do well with that. So Jason, I may come in to you afterwards and say, you know, in that in that staff meeting today, as soon as you started talking about our project and then you linked it to the quarterly financials, everybody shut down. And I don’t know if you did you notice that.

And you may say no, Chris, I didn’t notice that at all. Ohh my gosh, that’s not my intent at all. Yeah, well, I think we lost people on that and you know, I think it just was perceived as being not mission driven and just bottom line driven. And I think we need to go back and repair that and Jason, you may say like well, what do you think might work with that and what might we do, right? So you know I know that’s those these feel a little bit artificial when you know they’re not something they’re not like the big you know problem with that staring at you. But I think that’s how you look at that, right. So I didn’t in any way diminish your role as an executive within the organization.

I’m just. I’m just sharing that when you link that project to finances, there was a real negative like dimming and the room and that’s not what we wanted. So how we gonna fix that? Right, so we keep it about what we’re trying to do with the project, you know, like another one that I’ve heard, you know, and I do work with the with the Brené Brown Group One is one of the ones I think she has. She has just communicated beautifully is if you have somebody on your team, your project team who just is always jumping in and answering, you know like before anybody has a chance.

The think about consequences and how things are gonna come. You’ve always got your sort of person who’s gonna answer, answer, answer. Clear is kind might pull that person aside and say, you know, we go into the operations meeting today. I really want you to sit back and let other people answer. Well, well, why? If I know I have the, you know, the right answer because I really want us as a team to work up some different, you know, different muscles. And I want to hear from some different voices. And one of the things I really, really would appreciate you helping is asking those really detailed great questions that I know you can ask Aaron.

And really try to pull information out of others within the meeting, right? So, you know I didn’t come and say you’re overly talkative. You’re getting in the way, you know. Shut up. Right. Like, that is not kind. That’s not gonna be helpful. But what I did was sort of talked about, you know, I want you to step back a little bit more. I want to hear from others. But one thing you can really help me with is asking questions. If you feel like, you know, the answer, ask some questions, it might help us get to that answer. Right. So you really have to come into it from the perspective of serving the work and by the way, you also got to be ready.

If somebody you know gets you know you, you could have somebody get ticked off at you. You could have somebody cry, you could have somebody say I’m done on this stupid project. So remember we are emotional beings. So when you’re doing this, you just have to be prepared for that. I. And I think coming back to, I just thought this feedback was really important. I want this project to be successful. I certainly didn’t intend to make you angry, to hurt your feelings. How can I fix that? That’s not. That’s not what I wanted to do. So let’s talk about it a little bit more.

Jason Crosby

Great point there. How now flip the table of that conversation. Communication being a two-way street, right. And we all have different personalities, you know, personality types, etcetera. What maybe advice would you give to the person on the other side of the table who maybe has difficulty receiving that what is perceived as unkind but is actually trying to be truthful? From someone else, any advice to give it to the person receiving the feedback?

Kristin Woodlock

So I do. I mean it was and it’s sort of I am totally reading between the lines and probably painting things, you know, Jason and Aaron with your team that may have not may not have happened, but I loved what you said about after we started to have the conversation about clear as kind and what that can do to really create innovation and good communication within a team.

You talked about how much you have talked about it, right? So I think it is very hard within a team or even between, you know, a supervisor and A and a colleague or a supervisor or somebody or supervising to just start in with this and not have had a conversation about, you know what I’ve heard this really great thing that I want us to think about. And that is clear as kind. And let me tell you what’s behind that. Let me tell you what that means. You know, it’s intended to serve the work, to give real feedback and real time to people and for us to gather, to come about, like, what’s going to happen next. And I think if you create that culture and expectation ahead of time.

It helps people when they tend to get defensive reactive, they feel like you’re criticizing me. And if I so I would socialize that with my team. I really want us to show up this way with each other. And if I see somebody struggling, I’m probably gonna reach out to that person one-on-one and say whether again, whether I’m just a colleague, I you don’t have to do this in a hierarchical way and just say I just, I I see a struggling when we’re really trying to deal with clear as kind. Is there something I can do? Can we talk it through? You know, I did not hear Jason and any way criticize.

The work that you did on that dashboard, what I what I heard him say is that the data and the dashboard was making people on the team really judge each other. And so he wanted to take a different route at it, but that had nothing to do with how you created the dashboard, right? So sometimes you can give people specific feedback on where you think they’re getting stuck and it can help them through it. Again, regardless of where you are in the organization.

Jason Crosby

Do you think you mentioned how the from the right? Very first question about innovation and how different that’s been just in the last year versus the your first thirty, would you would you say uh communication and difficulty in communication has also been a little bit more difficult post you know with pandemic people working from home you know there’s a lot of talk of turnover quiet quitting all these types of things. Do you feel that’s made things even more difficult whether you’re giving or receiving the message?

Kristin Woodlock

Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. And I you know, I do think it’s important for your for your listeners to like remember that, you know, I’ve had a very long career in like running large health systems and doing, you know, even taking one large nonprofit into bankruptcy. And, you know, under a massive spotlight. So I’ve, I’ve actually run stuff. What’s been interesting to me as a consultant is, is in the first five or six years, did a lot of work, you know, and the demand that people would come to me with was I’m, you know, I’m restructuring my health system. I’m bringing in different affiliates. Can you help me with that structure with that process? It was.

Very much about the business of behavioral healthcare or healthcare in the last year or so, I, I just my phone rings off the hook or whatever the cool technology is of the day. I’m sure I have the latest technology. It’s not, it’s not, it’s not a landline. I’m not that I’m not that technologically backwards, but so. So my phone rings off the hook, I get the emails and it’s all about like I need you to come in because like, I feel like my staff is burnt out. I I feel like people are tired, you know.

It’s like all of my clinical staff wanna work from home, but I can’t make that work. You know, we aren’t having the tough conversations we’re irritable with like it is so much about, about the ability to communicate with each other. How are we going to set up new norms and really doing that? And what’s been funny? Jason, I think is, as I’ve started to work with some organizations, in particular using DARE to lead, which is just one sort of tool in my toolbox. What I found is that it creates enough conversation. But then people start saying, well.

Yeah. Well, we’re there to lead train. Well, I didn’t see Aaron show up that way.

You know, Jason shows up that way, but I didn’t see Aaron show up that way. So the there’s just so much to unpack and I think what I have really resonated and liked about Brené Browns work is that she gives us very concrete tools and language so that like clear is kind right that that can be pretty simple. But that a team can sort of have a shared commitment to have a shared understanding, you know, skill up about how to give each other feedback and what does really engage feedback look like, which is important.

Kristin Woodlock

And also like if we’re if if we’re starting a new project or I’m asking you to do something, this is another Brené Brown tool that I think is helpful on this on this emotional teamwork and she’ll say make sure you paint Don. So. So I don’t just go to Aaron and say get me get me the spreadsheet of all of our expenses that we’ve had with outside vendors for 2021 and Aaron’s going to do the best he can to figure out what the heck is in my mind and what I’m gonna do with it. Right so he’ll try he’s gonna spend a lot of time really trying to.

You know, buff and polish, something that looks really cool, but what I didn’t tell Aaron was that I was really looking at outside vendors that we could potentially consolidate and look to group in a different way. And so I wanted to see some affinity elements of that and I wanted to see who ordered them and I wanted to see more detail on the invoice about what we actually purchased from them. So when Aaron delivers that product to me, I’m going to be like, this is not what I wanted and Aaron’s going to feel bad. I’m gonna be mad ‘cuz I wanted to share it with you, Jason. Then two hours.

And and So what we really are trying to focus on this as well is me sitting down with Aaron and saying like I I’d like those invoices. And Aaron says like paint done for me, Kristin, if I don’t think to say it, I’m like, OK, here’s what I wanna do. Here’s why I wanna do it. And Aaron might say, you know what, I know you’re thinking and voices, but we actually have a better tool. I think if we look at our purchase offers and the then the purchasing system that we do, that’s going to give us the information you want. And I think if I pull that together, it’s really going to impress Jason in terms of, OK, great, right, let’s do this.

So really having that detailed communication and frankly like some people hate doing that, they hate spending the extra 15 seconds saying why you want it. I’ve even seen some leaders hate it because they don’t really know what they want.

Like they know what it’s like. I know when I see it and whatever you give me, Aaron, is not gonna be what I want, right, like, but. But if you can, if you can have that conversation ahead of time, it’s amazing how much that streamlines the work. It, you know, it gave Aaron a chance to, to show off a little bit to me about how he knows what’s going on in the system. And he’s like, yeah, alright, good. I really influenced this. Right. And his work was actually productive instead of needing to go back and do it two or three times. Right. So. So there are some little things that we can do as organizations or we can.

You know, we can take a, you know, a bigger, more holistic approach. I do work with some organizations who dare to lead, like across the whole organization. But you can do some little things that really help sort of tamp down some of the anxiety, angst, conflict and can really start the team working together with a with a fresh set of energy. And I think that’s what I heard you to describe sort of happened after I spent some time with your team.

Jason Crosby

  1. Yes.

Kristin Woodlock

He said. I felt that lift, you know.

Jason Crosby

No question, no question. What? So lots of very good applicable tools for audience that that was able to listen to all that. What as we wrap this up, what are some of the quick hit type things? Would you advise to whether it’s a new manager, right, we’ve got practice administrators, we’ve got hospital administrators listening, it’s hectic quick environment.

Where can they go? Find some more information along the lines of what you just discussed and find you and maybe a couple things as to what they can take back and apply in the near term.

Kristin Woodlock

Sure, sure. So they can find me at All the contact info is there. You know folks that I’m following right now. I I think the Dare Delete podcast that that Bernie does on Spotify is just fantastic whether you’re driving, walking, you know, hiding in your closet where whatever you’re trying to do, they’re about 45 Minute podcast. She brings in amazing people. That’s why I heard doctor Linda Hill talk about the difference between change and innovation.

I just think those are 45 amazing reenergizing informative minutes so that that’s a really good, good resource. Brené Brown does have a website and has a bunch of freeware activities, including a daring leader assessment that you can take if you’re just curious about sort of what some of your skills, you know, skill spots, soft spots are, I think Simon Sinek ‘Start with the Why’ is really amazing in terms of getting to the to the purpose part of things. So, you know, I think those are some, those are some quick lifts.

I think that are out there that that really would give you a lot give, give the listeners a lot of things to start working on.

Jason Crosby

Fantastic. I’ll tell you what I for those lessening, do yourself a favor.

Go to Kristin’s website, engage with her. The presentation you did for us. Of course, Kristen, whether it was the clearest unkind, the 5C’s there. July, we went through all those tools.

And as someone that you know, if you’re doubtful of if this is your fearful that there’s fluffiness to the discussion, I’m here to tell you no, this is one of those things where there’s not as applicable tools.

In in these applications that Kristen is talking about, so please, if I if you are looking for such an engagement, I would encourage you to do so, Kristin. I really, first of all appreciated the presentation and thankful for the information today as well.

Kristin Woodlock

Great to be with you both. Thank you so much.

Aaron Higgins

Yeah, thank you Kristin. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time, so we might wanna have you back sometime here in the near future. So.

Kristin Woodlock

Sure. Have to come back.

Aaron Higgins

Thank you for joining us and everyone. Thank you for listening to vital conversations with SHP. Again, our guest today was Kristin Woodlock. You can find or Google her name. I did. I found plenty of ways to get a hold of her. If you want her to come talk to your organization, she’s available for that as well. Alrighty. Thank you. Kristen. Jason, you both have a wonderful day.

Jason Crosby

Thanks Aaron. Thank you.