Sunday, May 22, 2011

Women Healthcare Chief Information Officers Prove Glass Ceilings Can Be Broken

How do women break the glass ceiling?  Joan Hicks, CIO, University of Alabama Health System and Theresa Meadows, CIO, Cook Children’s Health System shared their thoughts on this topic  during The Monarch Center’s virtual roundtable series on Profiles in Women’s Leadership in May (see's%20Leadership%20Profiles%20-%20The%20Monarch%20Center.htm  )
Meadows and Hicks fielded a range of questions from an engaged group.  And throughout the two roundtables, I couldn’t help but note that the leadership actions both espoused coincided closely with the hybrid model of leadership that The Monarch Center has developed for its women’s leadership training.  These two dynamic women seemed to nail the highpoints of the Center’s strength-based and values leadership model in every way.
From managing work/life balance to setting IT priorities in the explosive health IT environment, these women exuded confidence and ability but recognized the importance that building relationships plays in a successful career path to the top.
Hicks, a health information management professional, and Meadows, a registered nurse, both received graduate degrees in health informatics from The University of Alabama at Birmingham before beginning their trajectory into the C-Suite. 
In assessing their careers, both CIO’s had key advice for those women wanting to move into top tier leadership positions.  A good work ethic, both agreed, that includes doing the best in your current role and making yourself valuable to the organization is paramount to success.  Meadows encouraged participants not to be afraid of new challenges but to seek them out.  Facing new challenges not only demonstrates your value it also builds self-confidence, she said.  But it is not enough to be competent, Hicks warned.  You must also effectively and in the right way let people know what you contribute, she stressed. 
Setting a career goal, making smart career choices, and building relationships were top priorities for Meadows.  It’s 90 percent about relationship management, Meadows remarked, and you must learn to use your network and relationships to their fullest potential. 
Hicks and Meadows agreed that playing to your strengths is essential.  Hicks reminded the roundtable participants, that no matter what the position, you must be authentic; your career is not sustainable if you try to be something you authentically are not.  Be decisive and don’t obsess, Hicks advises.   Even when the sharks are circling, she added, you must be transparent.  Integrity and honesty are overriding qualities for leadership success. 
The take-away from these women leaders is that glass ceilings can be broken.  And fortunately there are role models like Meadows and Hicks who are showing women every day that they can do it too!  Share your thoughts.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Leadership is a journey, not a destination.

Leadership is a journey, not a destination.  If you believe that you will become a leader by attending a class, workshop, seminar, or by a reading a book you will be disappointed.  Leadership is a long-lived journey.  If chosen, it is one that requires us to continually improve our self-understanding and our capacity to guide others for the common good.
Most of the fun in any journey is not necessarily getting to a destination.  Rather it is planning the journey and the excitement of achievement in the progress of getting from one place to another.  New sights, sounds, experiences, fragrances, people, cultures, and foods all play a part in the dynamic nature of the journey.  In fact, arriving at a supposed destination launches an avalanche of memories and retrospection that moves us to new dreams and provides the momentum to continue our journey to yet another place.
Leadership is a constant journey.  Fed by our observations, experiences, and perceptions leadership is about reflecting, learning, applying our strengths, and engaging others in a spiral of innovation, inspiration, initiation, and improvement for the common good.
Embrace and enjoy your leadership journey.