Ignite Leadership Podcast – Kyle DeFur

Ignite Leadership Podcast – Kyle DeFur

How to Grow Your Organization by Growing Your People

As president of trueU, an Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, Kyle DeFur leads a movement of over 70 like-minded businesses that believe that great companies make their people better. trueU provides a proven platform of programs and resources to help member company employees be the best version of themselves at work, at home and in the community.

Prior to leading trueU, Kyle held executive leadership positions in hospital administration for over 25 years. He most recently served for 7 years as president of St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, a 950-bed, $1.3 billion hospital organization in Indianapolis with more than 5,500 employees and 1,500 physicians. Hospital responsibilities included St.Vincent Indianapolis Acute Hospital; St.Vincent Women’s Hospital; Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital; Seton Specialty Hospitals and St.Vincent Stress Centers.

During his tenure at St. Vincent Indianapolis, Kyle received the “Regent’s Award” for leadership and innovation from the American College of Healthcare Executives, and the hospital received national recognition as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News and World Report and one of the “Top 50 Hospitals in the Country” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

Kyle graduated from Anderson University in Indiana with a bachelor’s degree then earned master’s degrees in hospital and health administration and business administration from Xavier University, Cincinnati.

Kyle serves on the boards of Anderson University, Rotary Club of Indianapolis, Sheltering Wings, A Heart for Kids and Anderson First Church of the Nazarene.

He and his wife of more than 30 years, Dana, have two grown sons, Cameron and Clayton. When not working Kyle enjoys mentoring, reading, golfing and actively serving his church.

Show Notes

After more than 2 decades in healthcare leadership, Kyle started doing some soul-searching and asking what kind of work he really wanted to be doing. He settled on the fact that there were 3 key pieces that brought him satisfaction and fulfillment in his work, the work he felt like he was designed to do:

  1. Mentoring young leaders
  2. Building healthy cultures in companies
  3. Connecting purpose to the jobs we do each day

He always felt like he did that as a hospital CEO, but was excited for the opportunity to do that work full-time. Soon after, he came across an opportunity to work for an organization called trueU that did exactly those things for leaders across all industries.

How is healthcare changing and what will happen over the next 10 years?

Kyle says that whenever there is tremendous change, there is tremendous opportunity. Everything gets shuffled, and what we thought we understood ends up getting turned on its head.

There is a lot of good work, a lot of innovation taking place in order to fix what he sees as a broken healthcare system. More people than ever before are accessing telehealth services, and he advises not predicting what the future will look like, but creating what the future will look like.

He always says that he didn't leave healthcare to move away from the industry, but to move toward a new opportunity. Healthcare is a career that requires tremendous dedication and that dedication can be extremely powerful if it's channeled toward innovative measures to improve the system.

What have you learned from the times you've fallen short of expectations, your own or others?

Kyle tells the story of a time when he was involved with a team and didn't communicate as clearly as he should have. He felt like he lost some integrity because he was trying to avoid a difficult conversation and in hindsight, would rather have been uncomfortable and seen as trustworthy.


Clear communication requires courage. Even in the moments it feels uncomfortable, the people around you will appreciate and respect your honesty.

He also tells a story about feeling confident in his ability when he started his position with trueU, and quickly realizing that he had more to learn than he thought. He believes that it was his investment in coaching that truly made the difference in his ability to serve his clients at a high level.

Leadership principles that guide Kyle

When Kyle was serving at a hospital in Lexington, KY, he encountered a video from renowned Lou Holtz called "Do Right." Holtz was well-known for turning around unsuccessful teams and had an incredible track record of success. In the video, Holtz gives 3 simple rules:

  1. Do the right thing
  2. Do your best
  3. Treat other people like you want to be treated

Kyle believes that we subconsciously ask 3 questions of the people we encounter, and that your answers to these questions determine how influential you are:

  1. Are you committed to excellence?
  2. Can I trust you?
  3. Do you care about me as a person?

Using those 3 guidelines and those 3 questions, Kyle has had a strong foundation to follow in any leadership position he finds himself in.

Now, any time he starts working with a person, he intentionally exchanges those questions and gives them permission to hold him accountable to those 3 questions.

Next Steps

If you're looking for support in your own servant leadership, there's no better place to start than this podcast. Kyle is a wealth of information and simply applying the lessons he shares in this episode will make any leader better.

But if you need an additional layer of support and a guide to keep you accountable to your goals as well as the purpose and vision you have for your life and your organization, there's no better place to start than with a free Discovery Session with The Followell Company.

In just 30 minutes, we'll uncover exactly what's holding you and your organization back as a leader and what steps you can take today to move in the right direction. If we both decide it's a good fit for us to travel that road together, great!

But if not, that's okay too, and you'll leave with valuable, tactical insight that you can apply right away to become a better leader.

Book your free Discovery Call today.

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