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Our Ideas & Impact

‍The Transformative Power of Relational Leadership: A Conversation with Krisda Chaiyachati

November 21, 2023
Intend Health Strategies Blog
‍The Transformative Power of Relational Leadership: A Conversation with Krisda Chaiyachati

‍Transformative. That’s a word we hear frequently from those who participate in Relational Leadership programs and workshops. This is the next in a series of interviews exploring the impact of Relational Leadership on self and work and the foundational power of relationships and human connection as driving forces of better healthcare.

Matt Lewis, Narrative Leadership expert and consultant with Intend Health Strategies, and Sarah Smithson of Intend Health spoke with Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, about his continued connection to Intend Health, his experience operationalizing the practices of Relational Leadership, the personal impact he has experienced because of these Relational Leadership practices, and his hopes for the future of this work. Krisda is senior medical director of care delivery at Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., and a board member of Intend Health.

In discussion with Matt and Sarah, Krisda mentions connecting to purpose (getting to the "Why") and witnessing others' stories. These are references to Relational Leadership concepts and practices such as:

  • Storytelling: As a core Relational Leadership practice, story is a powerful tool for cultivating self-awareness, establishing connection, and motivating action. Along with related concepts such as Narrative Leadership and Story of Self, storytelling is foundational to individual transformation, team transformation, and the transformation of the culture of healthcare.
  • One-to-Ones: Listening is one of the most important skills effective leaders demonstrate, particularly when supporting the growth of others. How well we listen has a major impact on both our job effectiveness and the quality of our relationships. Built on a foundation of active listening, One-to-Ones enable us to engage others authentically, to build connection and understanding, and improve the quality of our relationships.

Explore related articles:‍

Krisda Chaiyachati, of Verily and a board member of Intend Health, shares how Relational Leadership practices have transformed him, both professionally and personally.

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“Over 100 members of the UNC community have participated in our Relational Leadership Institutes… one word stands out for me in our evaluations — regardless of whether cohorts met in person or via Zoom — and that word is transformative."

Josh Hinson, MSW, LCSW

Assistant Professor University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work

“Relational Leadership is what keeps me going. When I feel overwhelmed, stressed, down, I turn to members of the Relational Leadership community for support and resilience. We genuinely care about each other. We put ‘people first,’ truly, in our work together.”

Sarah Smithson, MD, MPH

Assistant Dean for Clinical Education University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

“A big impact that Intend Health has on me is it makes me more humble, kinder, more intuitive, a better listener, and I’ve been able to teach the skills I’ve learned to others. All of this makes me a better team member, and I think that that's integral to what Intend Health teaches — we need high functioning teams to provide the best care.”

Student Action Network Participant

“I participated in RLI [the Relational Leadership Institute]... and my world has not been the same since. The community that I’ve gained at RLI has been extraordinary. Being part of RLI means being connected to a diverse, interdisciplinary community that breaks down the walls that are typical in academic medicine.”

Katie Gradick, MD, MHS

University of Utah

“Relational skills are particularly important right now because they’re rooted in people, with the fundamental assumption that we are good and have common values. If I can approach with unconditional positive regard and build in psychological safety, who knows what we can accomplish, despite the chaos around us.”

Lexy Kliewer, LCSW

Oregon Health and Science University

"I have employed and used so much of my Relational Leadership experience and training from Intend Health to work."

Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, MSHP

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

"I think the collaborative work that Intend Health does to recruit bright, energized, resilient, diverse, and compassionate primary care physicians all over the country will be even more impactful. Intend Health's efforts will be a big part of the solution to mend our ailing primary care infrastructure in the coming years."

Peter Meyers, MD, MPH

Family Physician, Minnesota Community Care

“So far, my experience in this Relational Leadership course has been THE highlight of my leadership journey. This program exceeded my expectations. I have been sharing the content with my colleagues who are also inspired by it. Thank you for making the world a better place one Relational Leadership course at a time.”

Relational Leadership for Clinician Leadership Program Participant


"Thank you for inspiring a generation of future docs to become primary care physicians. I definitely felt like I had a community during medical school."

Shani Truong

Family Medicine Resident, UC Davis San Joaquin General Hospital

"This year, there's been so much change with COVID, with work, with everything. But I feel like the PCP Student Action Network has been that constant that I could always just count on. And my favorite part is that no matter how stressful work was, no matter how stressful the year was, whenever it came time for a PCP call or any PCP anything, it's always something that I look forward to."

Student Action Network Coach

"The leadership skills, relationships, and perspective I have gained through my involvement in Intend Health have shaped the clinician, educator, and leader I am today."

Kyle Turner, PharmD

University of Utah

"In a healthcare system fraught with silos and computer screens, we need the human voice — a personal connection — now more than ever. That's the work of Intend Health."

Matt Lewis, PhD

Strategic Consultant

Intend Health People