I had the honor of interviewing Angela Yochem for a recent edition of our HMG Strategy Global Spotlight video series. Angela is the former EVP and Chief Digital Officer for Novant Health, a super-regional healthcare system with one of the largest medical groups in the U.S. She is also a recent winner of our HMG Strategy 2023 Global Leadership Institute Recognition Program Award, and it was a thrill speaking with her about the future of visionary leadership.
Here’s an edited and condensed transcript of my conversation with Angela:
Hunter Muller: Angela, it’s always great speaking with you. From your perspective, in these difficult times, what is visionary leadership and what does it mean in the context of modern global markets?
Angela Yochem: Thank you, Hunter. That’s a great question. In the past, when we thought about visionary leadership, we thought of exemplary leaders who seemed to be able to see into the future. It seemed as if they knew exactly what to expect and they knew how to prepare their companies for exactly that future.
HM: But the world is more complex now. There’s more turbulence and uncertainty than ever before.
AY: Yes. And as a result, we have to prepare for many possible futures. And it's not just about understanding what those possible futures might be. It's about designing your architecture, designing your organization, defining your optimization goals so that you have the flexibility to move and to adjust as new events happen.
HM: In this unprecedented environment, what are the best strategies for winning?
AY: You can optimize for flexibility. You can optimize for rapid growth. You can also optimize for rapid contraction if necessary. The key is making sure that you are agile and not locked into winning only if the stars align in the way you expect they will.
HM: Brilliant insight. I love the emphasis on flexibility and agility. As a leader, how do you keep people engaged and inspired? How do you uplift them?
AY: People need a spark to thrive in changing times -- they need to feel inspired and appreciated. As leaders, we need to get people excited about change. We need to get people excited about welcoming those unexpected and unforeseen challenges. If we build our organization so we can encourage people to be interested, engaged, curious, excited by change and eager to learn, that's the type of organization that will thrive, today and tomorrow.
HM: GPT-3 and GPT-4 have fueled a truly dramatic ascent for AI. What are your thoughts about the future of AI and the role it will play in our world?
AY: I think it's tremendous. We have the opportunity now to reimagine our businesses and our organizations. AI has become an extraordinary accelerator and I don't see that acceleration diminishing anytime soon. AI will drive certain business models to evolve rather quickly. AI will likely result in some business models going away entirely. In their place, however, we’ll see the emergence of new business models that weren't possible before the advent of AI tools. As long as we focus on outcomes and results, we’ll be able to adapt and leverage the full potential of AI technologies.
HM: Tell us about how you think through business challenges to help organizations achieve success.
AY: I’ve had the privilege of having served on executive teams across a variety of industries. My diverse experience has taught me that no company lives in a bubble or exists on its own. We are each a part of a vast ecosystem, and our fortunes are tied together. I see individual companies as part of that larger ecosystem, and that helps me develop winning strategies. That's part of my thought process and it enables me to envision how companies can thrive in a complex world.
HM: Angela, thank you so much and congratulations on your 2023 HMG Strategy Global Leadership Institute Recognition Program Award.
AY: Thank you. It's been a privilege.
- Visionary leadership isn’t about predicting the future but preparing for many different possible futures
- Employees need a spark to keep them engaged in changing times. For leaders, this includes getting employees excited about change and making them feel appreciated for their contributions
- AI is likely to generate new business models and result in some business models going away completely. The key to successful deployment is by focusing on outcomes and results