“Leaders are people who others follow. Sometimes that's positive, sometimes it's not.”


Matt Kelly


Culture is a unique combination of behaviours that are expected and accepted in the workplace. A culture of trust and high performance is a great place to work. A workplace of distrust and low performance is not a great place to work. You will always win with your team if you establish an environment of improvement and a culture of query, where people are always checking on how they are doing things, trying to make sure they are doing it correctly.

The setting of a culture is something you don’t do in a boardroom, in a meeting room, or on Tuesday afternoon. It is a slow burn - something that takes a long time.

As a leader covering eight hospitals and looking after a group of around 3000 staff, Matt Kelly knows a thing or two about how to change organisational culture. In 2019, he was internationally recognized for it as the first Australian to be invited to speak at the world's leading Patient Experience Summit held by Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. He was also named New South Wales' Business Leader of the Year.

Matt Kelly is a member of the executive team at Healthe Care, a leading private hospital operator in Australia. He is the head of Regional Operations, North.

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Today’s conversation begins with the importance of creating an environment of trust, where people feel safe enough to be vulnerable and say what they aren’t happy with. Trust is a word that means so many different things to people. Matt explains how he has placed trust at the base of the ‘Triangle of T’ along with transparency. Trust and transparency at the base of the triangle can lead to fantastic teamwork.

“If you don't trust each other, there is a fracture in the teamwork. If you are not trusting someone, you are not transparent with them. It’s all connected.

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Healthe Care uses the platform of mission, vision and values to frame their direction and goals for their teams. They use that same platform to say to their patients, ‘this is what you should expect from us.

The five values are:

  1. Best practice
  2. Best experience
  3. Respect
  4. It's personal
  5. Positive energy

The leadership team talk about each of these values, focusing on what they mean to them as a group and how they look in the environment. Leadership goals involve taking this back to their teams and talking about what behaviours support each value and what behaviours detract from that value.

Only one value is chosen per month because culture change is a slow burn that happens a little bit at a time. Matt explains that you have to persistently drive the message that the values are important. Be consistent with the message as well (don't change the message). Be sure that you get the message right and continue to always bring it forward in all interactions.

A lot of the time with employees, managers, leaders, (or anyone), it is not about giving them one solution or telling them what to do. It is about giving them a toolkit to choose something that will help.

The complete interview, including exactly how Matt approaches culture change by using observation, rewards systems and problem-solving, can be listened to here, on audio platforms, or watched here, on The Culture of Leadership (TCoL) YouTube channel.

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