AdventHealth Central Florida Division
(December 2019) – Daryl Tol learned early in life that every day is what you make it. When he left for school each morning, his mom would walk him out the door with, “Make it a good day.” She infused in him an optimism and positivity that have carried him all the way to his current position as president and CEO of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division.
“She would always explain to me that it’s not a passive thing,” Tol said. “You don’t have a good day or not have a good day. You make it a good day. You have a responsibility for how this day goes.”
Tol has served in progressive leadership posts within what was the Adventist Health System and Florida Hospital group before it rebranded to AdventHealth earlier this year. When he was growing up, he briefly thought he might like to be a physician. He thought about joining his dad, a former pastor, and becoming a financial planner. But something happened in college at Walla Walla University in Washington.
He was dating Stacey, who is now his wife, and her father was an administrator for a group of small rural hospitals in Oregon. “I got to spend a lot of time with him walking around and watching him interact with staff,” Tol said. “He knew everyone and he could do everything because these places were really small and essential assets in the communities. I just loved how meaningful it was.”
Tol explained what makes healthcare such a gratifying profession, and what he respects the most about working within AdventHealth, where he leads a 21-campus division spread across seven counties:
“We are with people at some of the most transformational moments of life. Both positively, like for the birth of a new child, and during some of the difficult moments, like when someone passes away. Our team can make even a difficult situation a little bit more positive. In this work, you can create an oasis in a crazy world. That’s something you really can’t do in many careers, and I feel very fortunate to have ended up in a place where you can build something that can make a forever impact on a family.”
Today, he’s excited about AdventHealth initiatives aimed at giving patients easier ways to connect with and navigate the system, controlling their own schedules and receiving care they need even outside a hospital environment. Locally, AdventHealth is focused on continued growth, building new properties in the region and acquiring medical facilities in neighboring markets including Polk County. “We believe people need healthcare services close to home, so a lot of that growth will be not big hospital buildings but health parks, consumer-friendly retail physician practices, virtual technology available in the home, and new services that come straight to people’s homes.”
He has loved living in Central Florida, where he can enjoy the outdoors year-round through running, walking, canoeing, kayaking and birdwatching. He also enjoys working as part of the community’s leadership. “It’s been an easy community to be an active part of,” Tol said. “I’ve always felt embraced here. … It’s remarkable how in Central Florida, we gather together to make a difference.”
He jokingly defines his leadership style. “I really like to communicate,” he said. “I enjoy speaking and writing, and people would say I’m very, very effective at extremely long emails. I definitely think that is one of my gifts.”
To lead his team into the future, Tol works regularly with a business coach. In fact, he has required his leadership team to do the same. “There are things you can process with a coach that you can’t process with your boss or with people who report to you in the company.”
Building a strong team is key to building a strong organization, Tol said. “I’ve had a lot of jobs, and I’ve noticed I can be the leader and struggle or I can be the leader and succeed, and the difference is the team around me.”