Episode Overview:

Highly effective leaders have a high Emotional Intelligence or Quotient (EQ), understand when to manage and when to lead, and know how to handle complex situations. Through two role plays, a good example and a bad example of EQ are presented in a medical practice between the medical director and a primary care provider.

In this episode of Value-Based Care Insights, Daniel J. Marino speaks to Lucy Zielinski of Lumina Health Partners and Dr. Cheri Olson of IPMA to share techniques to increase EQ and grow in leadership skills. Here are some key takeaways:

  • When delivering messages, it is important to practice active listening and ask for feedback.
  • Advance your EQ by taking self-assessments and getting a coach. 
  • EQ skills are not only inherent - they can be learned, practiced, and improved.


Daniel J. Marino
Daniel J. Marino, Managing Partner, Lumina Health Partners


Lucy Zielinski, Managing Partner, Lumina Health Partners

Dr. Cheri Olson, Medical Director, Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association - IPMA


Dan Marino: Welcome to another episode of Value Based Care Insights. I'm your host, Daniel Marino. We have an interesting episode for you today, which is a take-off from a leadership conference that Lumina Health Partners through our Lumina Leadership Institute put on with IPMA, which is the Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association. This conference occurred back on October 14, 2021 and was very well received. The conference was about leadership development. And we had a number of aspects to our Leadership Conference, where we talked about how leadership is critical in moving an organization forward. It's critical in developing teams. It's also critical to one's personal growth and personal success. Out of that came a number of questions around emotional intelligence, emotional quotient, if you will. And there were a lot of requests, a lot of discussion by our attendees in our audience after the session to really dive deeper into what EQ frankly is, and what are those characteristics around EQ? And how can the development of EQ inform for even stronger leadership development within one's own position and within an organization. So what we've decided to do as part of our podcast, is to play a recording that was done by Lucy Zielinski, who is a partner with Lumina Health Partners, and Dr. Cheri Olson, who is a family practice physician as part of IPMA. They will run through two scenarios on how emotional intelligence can really inform messaging and can really inform a lot of the activities of a strong leader. Let's go ahead and play scenario one.

Cheri Olson: So at our October 14th session, Lucy and I talked about the importance of EQ, or emotional quotient, sometimes called Emotional Intelligence for effective leaders. We talked about traits or characteristics that have been used to define EQ. And they include things like being a good listener, being empathetic, being humble, being self-aware, being a clear communicator, and more. The really good news for leaders is that these EQ skills can be learned, practiced, and implemented. Today, we want to share a short vignette that demonstrates a leader getting the same information across in a similar amount of time, but in a way that showcases more EQ skills.

Lucy Zielinski: So what we're going to do is two scenarios, we're going to role play a situation that happens quite often in many practices, especially among physicians and administrators. And I'm going to play Dr, Lucy, and I am the medical director of Omega. And then my partner here, Dr. Cheri will be a primary care physician, a very busy one at that, working.  What we'll do is two takes.  We're going to do a bad take and a good take, and we'll let you guess which one's the good one and which is the bad one. We'll close with a few comments. So without further ado, let's go to take one.


Cheri as Primary Care Physician: (having a side conversation) I know you can't even sit this patient in next week. I mean, they have a really complicated story. Well, thanks. What? What I'll be there in a minute to talk to him about why the COVID test is important. I thought they said that they were okay with it. Just let me finish this note. *Phone rings* Hello, Dr. Olson here.

Lucy as Medical Director: Good morning. Cheri. Do you have a minute?

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: No, not really. I'm really busy right now.

Lucy as Medical Director: Well we have this thing going on. This will really only take a second. What I wanted to talk to you about today is about your work RVUs from last year. Did you have a chance to review those financials?

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: I know, I haven't really looked at them yet.

Lucy as Medical Director: You probably noticed that you're well below the MGMA 30th percentile. Remember, the goal was 40%. You know what this means? By the contract, we all agreed that you will be taking home $15,000 less - it will impact your compensation.

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: Oh, but it was a horrible year. I mean, COVID was here…

Lucy as Medical Director: I know, I know, it's been such a tough year for all of us. But here again, we have a business to run. And, you know, 80% of the team made the target last year and you agreed to this. We took a look at your scores, your risk scores, your patients aren't any sicker than anyone else. And I just wanted to make you aware of this change in your paycheck this next month. Cheri, make sure you don't buy Mercedes this year. And let me have you get back to the clinic so you could get your patients in and meet your quota for wRVUs. I'll talk to you later Cheri, have a good day.

Dan Marino: In that scenario, it was really interesting how Dr. Lucy in delivering the message on productivity and and the impact on her compensation.  Clearly the listening activities how she formulated a lot of her conversation, her messaging was poor. Boy, it was really lost with Dr. Cheri. And the second scenario, Dr. Lucy and Dr. Cheri is going to run through a little bit of a different approach, utilizing EQ skills, to better inform the messaging and better inform the delivery. So, let's listen to that now. And then at the end, they will debrief on comparing and contrasting the two scenarios and give some insights as to how EQ can really inform communication, can really inform leadership, and can really inform being able to better connect with your individual. Let's play scenario two.


Lucy as Medical Director:  *Door knock*

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: Hi, Dr. Lucy, thanks for coming over to my office to meet with me. I really appreciate that. I hope everything's okay.

Lucy as Medical Director: Yeah, it's good. Good morning, Cheri. I know you've been working very hard. And thank you for just taking a few minutes today to talk to me. So before we get started, let me ask you, how's everything going? I know you had a few things going on in your life personally, and just wanted to check in.

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: It's been a tough year, I tell you, I got COVID. And I'm not sure I'm back to 100% yet. And, you know, my kids like everyone else's are being homeschooled. And they're driving me crazy. And, the patients are just so complex and challenging. And I've really been struggling to keep on top of all my work and get my charts closed. And you know, just finished the work on time. I'm not, I'm not making it.

Lucy as Medical Director: I'm sorry to hear that. Cheri. It's, you know, many of our physicians are struggling with this as well, it’s tough time. How do you think we can help you?

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: Well, I don't know. I don't understand a lot of the stuff that you send around in memos. And I really don't have the time to like to read it and understand it. I just feel kind of like it's over my head. That's all I can do to take care of the doctor part of things.

Lucy as Medical Director: Yeah, and definitely I know, your satisfaction scores are so good. So thank you for taking such great care of your patients. We appreciate that.

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: That part is still fun.

Lucy as Medical Director: Oh, that's so good to hear. Well, I know you've been just juggling a lot of balls. And there's a lot of competing demands. But what I wanted to talk to you about is, you know, we do this every year, right? We take a look at the compensation and the wRVUs - everything that we measure in the reports. So there was just a little bit of a variation there. It was lower than I thought it would be where you are because you seem very busy. And so it was lower than the benchmark, and I'm wondering.  You're just as busy, right?

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: It sure feels so busy. I mean, it sure feels like I'm producing as much as anybody else. And, you know, like, I should be doing well with those numbers. I don't understand why I'm not. I don't know what to do.

Lucy as Medical Director: You know, one thing that you shared, you mentioned earlier is that you had a hard time, is it just finishing up your charts?

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: I don't know, you know, I sometimes sit and worry about, what I should charge. And if I should be a four, three, or, you know, five or a three, or what I'm putting down for the diagnosis codes and how to get everything ready. But then I just want to get done and get out of it and get home to my family. So I just do it.

Lucy as Medical Director: I'm almost thinking maybe, before I present any of these numbers to you, because my sense is, we should probably take a deeper dive into just to make sure that charts have been closed, charges are coded and submitted. Would it make sense if maybe I could work with your office manager and to see if all your charges have actually gone in? So you get credit for those? 

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: That would be great. I would love it. If someone would look at that. If I'm missing something, I'm sure I'm willing to do what I can to help the team out.

Lucy as Medical Director: Okay, great. So you know what I'll do, let me go ahead and talk to her on my way out. And we'll review some of this. And then I'll come back, and we can review some of your numbers. Because as you know, it impacts the compensation formula, but I just want to make sure that we have all the right numbers first, before I present them to you.

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: Oh, that's such a relief. Thank you so much for not firing me, or telling you I'm going to lose all my money. You know, it's been so tight at home with the kids and the COVID. And being home from work and all those things. So thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Lucy as Medical Director: Oh, Dr. Cheri, we thank you for just coming to work and really taking care of our patients, we value you. So we thank you for your commitment. And good luck. Good luck with everything at home. And, and I hope things turn around.

Cheri as Primary Care Physician: Thank you, Dr. Lucy, and thanks for coming over here today.

Lucy as Medical Director: You're welcome. You're welcome.

Lucy Zielinski: So Cheri, now that we've had some time to process what we talked about emotional intelligence, as well as the role play, what are some tips leaders can do to increase their emotional intelligence, or at least their awareness of where they are and how they could improve their emotional intelligence?

Cheri Olson: Right? Because it's really hard for us to know, if you ask every person that you were talking to, they probably say, well, I'm nice, I'm a nice person, I want to do a good job. I'm not coming down too hard on somebody. But it's what the other person's perception is. That's critical. It's not what you think it's, it's how you're perceived. And so that's a really hard thing to learn.

So one tip is, enlist a colleague, if you've got somebody in your in your department and you're at a meeting and you want to bring up a point or you want to give some feedback and enlist a colleague that understands that you're trying to improve, and have them give you some feedback after you after the meeting after the one on one you had,  ask for feedback, because that can be hard, but also a really a lot of growth around that.

The other thing, I think, is to practice. When you're giving a talk and when you're getting prepared for any important conversation you should practice. So how can you enter a conversation with somebody prepared, not defending yourself? Not doing it in a rush, but making it a really important critical time in your work to have a good conversation with somebody?

And then finally, I loved how you said curious, I think being curious and you know, trying to find out what's actually going on with people can be super helpful and important. And if you go in with the idea that you're open to learning with something new, that can be tremendously valuable, as opposed to just going in with your agenda to get administered or given to somebody. How about you?

Lucy Zielinski: You made some great points there. Cheri, your first point, working with someone one of the questions that has been helpful to me when I worked with my own colleagues or peers is after a meeting, I actually asked them for feedback. And the question I asked is, how did you experience me in that meeting? Oh, pretty telling sometimes. If they're very open, candid, transparent, and we have a good relationship, I've really received some great feedback. To the point somebody said, Lucy, you were a little quick, you talked too fast, you assumed a couple things, and you probably should have listened more than talked. And to your point about working with others, a coach can always help. We talked about the several personality assessments, one of them being the EQI 2.0, that provides some great insights into your emotional intelligence. And then really downloading that information and working with a coach one on one, to exercise some self-control to exercise some self-awareness around emotions is very, very critical. To the point where there's a reaction that I'm having, I have learned to take a pause, step back, take a deep breath, and really think before I respond.

Cheri Olson: That's great. You mentioned some phrases you like to use. And I think that's so valuable. Just some simple wording changes that you can do when you're exploring issues with people.

Lucy Zielinski: Yes, some of them I'm very curious about, right? So asking questions is better than making assumptions, and giving opinions or ideas. So what I often do is, I will ask questions, just to understand where that individual is coming from. And often I will think about the words that I use to start my questions with.  I will use what, like, you know, what do you think about this? Or how - how do you think that will impact the organization? I will start questions with the words what or how, versus like yes or no close ended questions. Or, or even why.

Cheri Olson: Now, why is that? No, no, because it's sure just makes you feel real defensive right away, right away, it sets a different tone to your conversation. I think these are simple little changes that can be made from changing the words you use to being curious to being prepared. And then all the way up to taking self-assessments and getting a coach. But these are all steps that have been shown to improve emotional intelligence and make you more successful as a leader.

Dan Marino: Well, that was very interesting. I hope everybody enjoyed that. Just to summarize, EQ, certainly can inform the growth of the leader, and good EQ skills, not only are something that's inherent, but is something that can be learned. It's something that can be developed. And one of the things I thought was really interesting that Dr. Cheri brought up that there really were some important characteristics of EQ, that involve being a good listener, being self-aware, being empathetic, and being a good communicator. And in particular, you saw in the second scenario, where Dr. Lucy, through some of her questions, tried to really understand sort of the internal issues that were affecting Dr. Cheri, and tried to connect with her on a different level. It wasn't just about delivering the message, but it was how the message was being able to deliver. And it was about really being able to connect with Dr. Cheri in a way that you can really drive some key results. A lot of times as leaders, we're more concerned about how we want to deliver that message and getting the message out there than really how the message is perceived. Emotional intelligence, emotional quotient is really key to leadership. I would encourage everybody to give this some consideration. And for more information, please reach out to www.luminahp.com/insights or contact directly Lucy, or Dr. Cheri, I personally find emotional intelligence really interesting. I know even in my own career, I've spent a lot of time developing this and it certainly has paid off for me on a personal level. So I encourage everybody to think through that. If you have any questions, any comments, any other thoughts? Please don't hesitate to reach out to any of us at Lumina, Health Partners. With that I would like to thank you for your time today. Please be safe. Be well, and until next time. I'm Daniel Marino. Thank you.

About Value-Based Care Insights Podcast

Value-Based Care Insights is a podcast that explores how to optimize the performance of programs to meet the demands of an increasingly value-based care payment environment. Hosted by Daniel J. Marino, the VBCI podcast highlights recognized experts in the field and within Lumina Health Partners.

Daniel J. Marino

Podcast episode by Daniel J. Marino

Daniel specializes in shaping strategic initiatives for health care organizations and senior health care leaders in key areas that include population health management, clinical integration, physician alignment, and health information technology.