It Takes Leadership to Jumpstart a Village!

“A community first and a company second.”  Not words you’d expect to hear from an organization that ten years ago was bankrupt, being sued, and losing more than 40% of its employees every year. But in the mind of Kent Thiry, Chairman and CEO of DaVita, that’s exactly what it took to turn a losing enterprise into a $6 billion company with 35,000 teammates across the United States. DaVita (which is Italian for “giving life”) is one of the largest kidney dialysis companies in the nation. According to the November issue of T+D Magazine, Thiry began with the end in mind: not profit but rather a community.  He stated a dream and then enrolled each employee into articulating what it means to be a healthy community that not only has a social contract with each other but also is a place where an individual’s dreams of a special place to work can be realized. In fact, in the middle of the dramatic business turn-around, the company’s name was conceived in a democratic process by teammates who rallied together to create a shared mission and core values. As someone who passionately believes that great leadership comes from recognizing and engaging the heart, mind and spirit of every stakeholder, I found myself silently cheering as I discovered more about DaVita. Steve Priest, the chief wisdom officer and senior vice president of operations at DaVita, writes “DaVita does dialysis but we are not about dialysis. We are about the lives of our teammates, our patients, our physicians, and our communities. If we add value to their lives, they will add value to the lives of others…when this happens, the DaVita Village lives.” For more information, visit astd.org/TD/eprints and reference the November issue.

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