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James Gravell
Interim President and CEO
Community Mercy
Health Partners
Springfield, Ohio


As interim president and CEO of three-hospital Community Mercy Health Partners, James Gravell often gets compliments—even from physicians—on how well the organization listens and clarifies expectations. Two years of working with an executive coach helped Gravell hone his leadership skills.

Gravel: I was chief operating officer of the Southwest Ohio region of Catholic Healthcare Partners when our president started an intense coaching environment for executives. My coach, who was from The O’Brien Group, helped me understand when I’m in my groove and when I’m out of it.

Another phase was learning how to make committees more effective. We’ve made an effort to stop the ongoing repetitiveness of information and communication that wastes time. Committee members have a responsibility to do their homework and to be on time.

We virtually eliminated PowerPoint presentations. We have a tendency to get in a room and show 20 slides that anybody at that level in the organization could have looked at beforehand. We’ve cut the fancy presentations because we don’t have the time for it.

Some presenters put together a one-page executive summary that gives a brief history and answers questions like, “What am I asking for?” and “What’s going to change?” Many presentations have reached the point where we say, “We sent you some information, does everybody understand the request and do you have any questions?” People who don’t do their homework aren’t going to raise their hand, but they’ll do their homework next time.

—Kara Olsen