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Aware of surroundings

One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs and busy executives is striking a balance between home and work life. In a global economy with 24/7 work demands, we are under more stress than ever. Former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch once said, “There’s no such thing as work-life balance, there are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” The reality is that work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives. Unfortunately, striving to achieve work-life balance can easily become one more stressor in an already stressed out lifestyle. The key is to be conscious of the issue and proactively make choices that are best for you and your family circumstances.

Being CEO of a hospital is one of the most demanding jobs I can imagine in today’s culture. Allen Tyra, CEO of Crossgates River Oaks Hospital, is a proven leader who understands the challenges of work/life issues. Crossgates River Oaks is operated by Health Management Inc. (HMA) and is a 149-bed hospital which includes a full-time emergency department, a 14-bed senior care program (geriatric psychiatry), and the State of Mississippi’s only inpatient Burn Center. Tyra grew up in Hackleburg, Ala., and began his healthcare career as a respiratory therapist after graduating from the University of South Alabama. After quickly rising to leadership positions in his field including being named director of cardiopulmonary services, he decided to go back to the University of South Alabama and complete his MBA. In 2000, he joined HMA as chief operating officer of Riley Hospital in Meridian. He went on to serve as CEO of Natchez Community Hospital and Lehigh Regional Medical Center (Lehigh Acres, Fla.) before moving to Crossgates River Oaks in 2007.

Tyra shared, “Balancing home and work life is a major issue.” He believes that developing leaders need to pay close attention to their mix of work and home life, as they are both very important. Tyra has three children, and they have had to relocate multiple times over the years. He noted, “I am lucky to have great children who have been exposed to numerous cultures and locations during their formative years . . . they know how to make friends quickly and are very good at adapting.” Tyra also acknowledges that his wife has been very supportive of his career. He emphasized, “I have been blessed with an incredible wife who has shouldered most all of the day-to-day business issues of our home and school for our three children. Her support has made it possible for me to do the things required to grow my career with Health Management Associates, including six moves in the last 15 years.”

Tyra’s leadership philosophy is to be fair, kind and ethical. He also believes that hard decisions should be discussed at length, but at the end of the day, the CEO has to make the decision. He clearly understands that great leaders are not afraid to make decisions, but should do their best to make well informed judgments. Tyra does not sit behind his desk all day disengaged with his team. Instead, he enjoys getting into the facility and talking with the staff. He noted, “Leaders need to be seen within the organization.” Business guru Tom Peters in his 1982 best seller “In Search of Excellence” described this as management by walking around. The point is for leaders to move around the organization in an unstructured manner to learn from the employees and to encourage them in their day to day roles.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or magic formula for achieving work/life balance. The key is to understand the needs of your organization, your home life, and your own personal need for boundaries. By being conscious of these tensions and seeking to do the best you can like Tyra, you are well on your way. We all go through seasons of life with different demands. As Welch noted, we ultimately make choices about how we spend our time which produces consequences. I believe that making informed and thoughtful choices will result in a life of purpose, direction, and satisfaction.

Up Close With … J. Allen Tyra

Title: Chief Executive Officer – Crossgates River Oaks Hospital

Favorite Media Resources: Fox News online

First Job: During high school, I worked summers and after school jobs in a local furniture factory doing any number of jobs…loading trucks, assembly, packaging.

Favorite Books: Anything by Greg Iles

Proudest Moment as a Leader: There have been many, but being a part of developing, opening and growing the only Burn Center for the state of Mississippi has been very fulfilling.

Martin Willoughby, a business lawyer in Jackson, is a regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. Willoughby can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.

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