Novu Health Engagement Blog

NovuHealth CEO Tom Wicka shares the importance of candor and other lessons from a former White House chief of staff

Novu Health

We were extremely lucky at NovuHealth to have Denis McDonough, former White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama, visit our office recently and share his experiences in building strong and effective teams.


From leadership lessons learned during his time in the White House to the importance of candor and creating an environment that reinforces trust, he presented valuable insights applicable to any workplace—whether on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or a private company like NovuHealth.


Our CEO Tom Wicka recently shared some of the valuable insights McDonough offered our team with Entrepreneur. Read on for a preview:


“One of the first things that the president said to McDonough when he started was, “Your role is to tell me what I need to know, not what I want to hear.” If you’re pulling your punches and not being straightforward, then you’re not doing your job. 


This doesn’t mean always presenting a consensus point of view. But it did require being brutally honest with the most powerful man on the planet when there was something that had to be said. For most of us, conflict can be uncomfortable, but don’t be afraid of or try to avoid it for the sake of keeping the peace. It can bring clarity and tension that helps refine decisions. 


In hearing McDonough speak about his work, it struck me how many lessons could be applied to companies—mine and others. The challenge we face as we bring on new team members and work with our customers to drive innovation and greater engagement in the healthcare industry requires both candor and a high level of trust.”


Click here to see the full article, “The importance of candor and other lessons from a former White House chief of staff,” for more lessons in leadership and building effective working relationships.


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About NovuHealth

NovuHealth is the health care industry’s leading consumer engagement company. Combining performance analytics, behavior science and comprehensive technology solutions, our rewards and engagement programs enable health plans to increase high-value member activities—improving member health and driving plan performance. Visit us at