November 19, 2020
I’m not sure where I heard this quote originally, but it is one that has stuck with me. I have received opportunities within my career to lead, and ultimately these opportunities have allowed me to continue to grow and advance as a leader within my organization. I’ve been able to adopt my own leadership style which I’m positive will continue to evolve over time as I gain experience.
Leading by example has been my preferred method of leadership to date. Let’s take a step back- 6 years ago I remember my first day at PHS as a 23-year-old with no healthcare experience whatsoever. This was the first opportunity I received- my current EVP took a chance on me. I left my final interview ecstatic feeling confident I would receive the job but left work on the first day overwhelmed by the acronyms, the state regulations, just everything really. I was certain I had made a mistake.
I vividly remember calling my mom in tears and she gave me some “tough love” advice, which I decided to follow. “Sounds like you have a lot to learn.” So that is what I did. For the first year, I put my head down and learned everything I could. My Director challenged me by allowing me to lead a handful of small projects. Some of these projects were not successful, but the knowledge I gained was invaluable.
I was offered a supervisor role right before my first annual review. A year in I was by no means a seasoned leader, but I was willing and excited to step up to the plate. I experienced many challenges as a young leader and setting the example helped me to validate my position. Had others on the team been with the organization longer? Yes. Were others older than I was? Yes. We have no control over these things, but what I could control was my productivity, my attitude and my willingness to do the job beyond standard expectations.
Leading by example has allowed me to gain trust from my team and others. If you want to continue to grow within an organization and our industry I would highly suggest being intentional in your growth. Step out of your comfort zone by inviting leaders from all steps of life, not just work, to lunch (or virtual meetings these days). Ask them questions; learn how to continuously improve your active listening skills.
Some other things that in my opinion have helped me continuously grow as a leader include being transparent no matter how uncomfortable or awkward that can be and inviting others into decisions. Listening and considering the thoughts of others regarding a decision goes a long way. Take chances on those who deserve opportunities when you can. Loyalty and respect from employees are important in my department, as I am sure it is in yours. When you provide opportunity, you build loyalty. When you believe in your employees, you gain their respect.
Fast forward a few years and I am now the Director of that same department I started in and I don’t intend to settle here. Continuing to improve as a leader and challenging myself to grow and learn is something I value much more than promotions. In my experience, those will happen along the way if you set the tone to be the best leader you can be on a daily basis.