Eric Buehrens

Eric Buehrens's picture

I am an executive coach and organizational consultant and certified in Coaching for Leadership & Professional Development by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. My practice builds on what I have learned, and the questions that made me curious, over a long career in leadership roles in important institutions in public service, the private sector, and for the past 20 years, academic medicine, healthcare and higher education. These roles include Chief Operating Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School), Executive Dean for Administration at Harvard Medical School and Deputy Provost for Administration at Harvard University, and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of a large private multi-specialty group medical practice.      

In addition to my private coaching and consulting practice, I am currently an Instructor in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, an Associate Faculty member of Ariadne Labs, and on the Advisory Board of the OpenNotes Initiative. I also coach in the Harvard Business School Executive Education program.          

I’ve operated healthcare systems internationally and consulted extensively on operational excellence. I served as CEO and Director of the Lean Enterprise Institute, a not-for-profit organization that teaches operational improvement based on the principles of the Toyota Production System. I have created strategic planning processes for institutions as an executive and consultant. I’ve sponsored many patient safety initiatives in healthcare and advised a number of healthcare startups. I am deeply committed to creating psychological safety in organizations and building capacity to continuously learn and improve.      

As leadership roles demanded more of me, I could not avoid many of the confounding dilemmas of organizational life. How can leaders effectively build alignment around organizational goals? Why is the internal life of so many organizations at variance with their espoused goals and mission statements? Companies rely on their leaders to solve a vast range of problems, many of them intractable or insoluble, so where can leaders turn for support, guidance, and insight? How can leaders satisfy institutional needs while also sustaining themselves? How can they constructively process the internal impact when they find that they no longer meet the needs of the companies and institutions they have served?       

We can’t always solve these dilemmas, but we can become more aware of the hidden purposes within ourselves and the institutions in which we work and are called to lead. The work of leadership also includes managing the conflict between the conscious work tasks of organizations, and the unspoken and often unrecognized agendas that institutions, their stakeholders, and their leaders bring to the organization. Leaders must also deal with high and sometimes conflicting expectations from different parties such as clients and colleagues. My work aims to find a constructive way forward for leaders who are managing often disparate areas of their work lives and provide a space for them to work out dilemmas and work toward solutions.      

My coaching and consulting always tries to bear in mind that the work of leadership also includes managing the conflict between the conscious work task of organizations, and these unspoken and often unrecognized agendas that institutions, their stakeholders and leaders bring to the leaders’ role.