Leadership Commitments in Action

KentuckyOne Health

Shane Fitzgerald
Flaget Memorial Hospital Chief Mission Leader

Shane Fitzgerald on Assuming Good Intent and Empowering Others

When Flaget Memorial Hospital Chief Mission Leader Shane Fitzgerald, MA, MDiv, meets with employees, he chooses to see the goodness in others.

“A quote comes to mind from Anne Frank,” Fitzgerald said. "'Despite everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.’ If somebody like Anne Frank can have that kind of perspective – that there is an inherent goodness in people – then I can certainly believe it. None of us is perfect, of course. But people, at their core, are good.”

This is the meaning that the first part of the following Leadership Commitment has for Fitzgerald: “I will assume good intent, seek first to understand and commit to open communication. I will empower and develop others through coaching, mentoring and teachable moments.”

Regarding seeking to understand, and committing to open communication, “one of the deepest hungers in the heart is to be acknowledged and understood,” he said. “One of the greatest gifts that we can give someone is to be present to them; to give them our time and undivided attention.”

Open communication includes active listening, Fitzgerald said.

“I want to listen for the message behind the words. True listening means being attentive to the way people communicate nonverbally as well. It means having a true sense of curiosity, as opposed to judging or jumping to conclusions. Then, when I understand, I can better communicate my part. That is the right order of things.”

Empowering others through coaching, mentoring and teachable moments means encouraging others by focusing on the positive, Fitzgerald said.

“I coached soccer for a number of years. Many times I pointed out areas where a player could be even more effective. I did that because I knew that player had the potential to be even better.”

When it comes to giving feedback about performance, trust is essential, Fitzgerald said.

“If you have the best intentions for me, and you seek first to understand me, I am going to trust what you have to say, even if it might be difficult to hear.”

Accentuating the positive doesn’t negate the fact that areas will need improvement, he said. There will be times when an employee’s performance is disappointing. The feedback may be hard to hear.

Mainly, though, encouragement will reap many more benefits than criticism will.

Fitzgerald’s advice on mentoring employees is:

  • Believe in their goodness
  • Listen closely for understanding
  • Choose to see strengths
  • Take a positive approach

“A good leader will establish good relationships,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s the foundation upon which everything else is built.”

Click here to learn more about the KentuckyOne Health Leadership Commitments.