Interview with Kelly Guzman (click to view PDF)

Kelly is the dynamic COO/Executive Vice President of HTS, Inc. At the helm of HTS’s Transition Planning Division for the past eight years, Kelly leads her team in transforming complex projects by breaking them into simpler, manageable pieces. To date, the division has managed over 30 healthcare projects across North America and Canada. The HTS Team continues to assist its clients through new facility openings, moves, and the implementation of new service lines. It has expanded its services to include transition and activation planning, workflow, activation budget, operations planning, logistics coordination, orientation and training, licensing, and move planning.

Kelly’s expansive healthcare resume includes administrative positions in acute care, sub-acute, skilled nursing (SNF), rehab, emergency medicine, interventional and ambulatory care services. Prior to HTS, she was the Director of Transition Planning for the UCLA Westwood & Santa Monica Replacement Hospital Projects where she developed and organized a transition planning department. She earned her Master’s in Nursing Administration from UCLA, and later joined its clinical faculty. Kelly is an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), and was past president for the Los Angeles Chapter. As part of her commitment to NAHN, Kelly continues to focus on fundraising efforts for nursing scholarships.

1. What mindsets, qualities, or talents have you found to characterize the most successful leaders?

Mindsets: I have found that those leaders who are able to “accept” the new- whether it be new cultures, people, processes, or methods, succeed at being strong leaders. It’s easy to get trapped in your own methodologies and the thought process of “we’ve always done it that way,” but being able to challenge the process is critical to discovering best practices.
Qualities: Some of the most successful leaders are good listeners and strong communicators. I have learned to always place a priority on Patience, Understanding and Humility (I call it the PUH prayer) which implies that you never underestimate a person, their knowledge or what they can do. It is a challenge to put these into practice, and it continues to be a work in progress. However, as a result of prioritizing these values, I am constantly amazed at the hidden talents and knowledge that our team has.
Talents: When committed to a goal, persistence is key. Being able to pick yourself up, dust off, and keep going is essential to growing as a leader. You’re going to fail and sometimes BIG! I have found that being able to step back, learn from your experiences, and apply it to the next situation is critical to happiness, and moving forward.

2. Which metaphor best describes your style of leadership? Do you ever change your leadership style depending on need and/or circumstances? If so, what does that look like and how do you maintain a sense of consistency for your team?

I’d say a recurring theme for me is “clarity dissolves resistance”. It is something that I really strive to work on throughout our work at HTS. I have found that when people aren’t engaged, or willing to listen, or try something new, it can be because they don’t understand the context or benefit. This means we need to do a better job of explaining, listening to their challenges, and responding with new methods of sharing this information.

3. What qualities have you personally focused on developing to become a better leader? Are there any qualities you already possessed that were beneficial as you became a leader?

As I mentioned, PUH- Patience, Understanding and Humility! Change and true learning doesn’t happen overnight! Growth comes as a result of a lot of communication, discussion, understanding and patience. Humility is critical in understanding that everyone, no matter how big or small their title is, is important to making the team successful. As a new grad, I was lucky to be trained and taught by many different people. As a nurse, you need to have critical thinking skills, interpersonal and communication skills, as well as technical skills. Some of my best lessons came from the Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), Techs and Aides! As a new manager, I had many terrific mentors who shared their personal successes, failures and professional experiences with me, all of which helped me to be more self-aware. I’ve always been a negotiator or the person to bring others together. This characteristic has helped me to work with various people.

4. What leaders do you admire the most and why? Personally, who comes to mind when you think of a great leader?

Florence Nightingale (I’m a nurse!). She was a pioneer. When she saw a problem(s), she took action, recruited followers and changed medicine!
Nelson Mandela. He embraced the people who persecuted and imprisoned him, and maintained an incredibly positive attitude. When I think of what others have endured to achieve their goals, it becomes hard to think that anything that is put in front of me is very difficult. Seeing how these leaders never lost sight of the bright side of life is a wonderful reminder for me. It is a great way to be.

5. What common leadership styles have known to be successful? How are they different?

The most successful and empowering styles are those in which leaders share their vision, provide a roadmap or guide-lines, educate their staff/team, and then let them go to run with it.

6. What do all great leaders have in common regardless of their leadership style? What allows for different styles to achieve similar success?

At some level, they are all able to touch the people they work with, and are able to communicate with them.

7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Technology, and leveraging it in a positive manner. There is so much information at our fingertips, and we are constantly interrupted. Being able to stay focused and on track with your goals become more challenging in this environment.

8. What are some things that great leaders regularly do that might go unnoticed? What are some things that as a leader you aim to do on a consistent basis either with your team, or individually?

I don’t know if there is anything specific that goes unnoticed- it seems like everything is out there these days! I think that great leaders spend time with their teams, mentor them, learn from them, and then reach out to people to help fill the gaps. I try to find people who like and pay attention to things that I don’t like to do. It’s hard to focus on things that aren’t exciting to me. In response to that, I find people who make it exciting, and through their passion, make things much more palatable.

9. What advice would you give someone who is stepping into a leadership role for the first time?

Do things that will make you proud (or your mother proud- assuming you like your mother). This might not always be easy, but do the right things! I read lots of management books. Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements has always been a good resource for me because it shares some basic but difficult messages:
1) Be impeccable with your word
2) Don’t make assumptions
3) Don’t take anything personally
4) Always do your best

They sound very simple, but are very hard to implement and live by every day! As a leader, you are on – every day!

10. How do you inspire others to follow your lead? Is that something people are born with, or can that
ability be developed?

I think that if you are passionate about what you do, your energy and passion are contagious, and people will want to follow you. If you aren’t happy or excited about what you are doing, you should do something else, or do some soul searching about what is going to make you happy. I think everyone has a passion about something- you just need to figure it out, and then find out how to make it your job.