By Michelle Daniels
Vice President - Product Strategy, Development and Administration
Encompass Group, LLC
I’ve been fortunate to work in nearly every department since I joined Encompass Group 17 years ago (I’d still like to drive the forklift someday!). That opportunity has been instrumental in my growth into leadership positions for the company. It not only gave me a stronger rapport with and respect for my colleagues - because I better understand what they do every day - but it also made me realize that I had found a corporate home that shares my fundamental approach. We both believe in the power of servant leadership.
Women are Naturally Servant Leaders
I believe women leaders have some distinct advantages; we’re more adaptable to changing needs and demands, which are
givens in the healthcare industry. We seem to be more perceptive and agile, more easily able to pivot when necessary.
Women also tend to gravitate towards servant leadership. For me, that means focusing on achieving organizational goals while prioritizing individuals and the culture in which you work. When you serve people first, empower them to do something well, they’re much more likely to serve you in return.
It’s not all roses for women leaders. The Lown Institute points out that 75 to 80 percent of healthcare workers are women, yet only 13 percent of healthcare executives are female. Although women have been responsible for many medical innovations and broken quite a few glass ceilings, they still face misperceptions and inaccurate stereotypes. You’ve probably experienced organizations where there are tribal relationships that limit new members, particularly women. Some of our challenges are self-imposed: we try to be “everything to everyone” in our job, home and community, or we don’t support other women in their workplace advancements.
Look for Inspiration as Your Leadership Style Evolves
We all should have individuals, both female and male, who help mold our approach to work, life, and leadership. Zig Ziglar and Corrie Ten Boom are two people whose philosophies speak to me; if you’re not familiar with them, I recommend you check them out. Their focus revolves around positive thinking and creating happiness within ourselves. These leaders overcame incredible odds, going on to serve and encourage others. Seeing how much they could achieve despite tremendous adversity, I recognized their fundamental beliefs would be invaluable in shaping my leadership path.
As you take on new responsibilities and work with different people, allow your leadership style to transform. I certainly delegate more than I did earlier in my career. A female mentor once told me, “You can do all things but not at all times.” Talk about words to live by! Being delegative enables you to better support individual growth for others as well as yourself.
Tips for Women (and Men) Healthcare Leaders
Wherever you are in your healthcare career, from an entry-level position to the C-Suite, you should formulate a plan for how you will emerge as a leader - or become a better one. Here are some strategies I’ve found to be beneficial:
- Find an environment that nurtures your skills and makes you feel proud to contribute to its growth.
- Look at your journey as a series of opportunities, not competitions.
- Collaborate, uplift and encourage others.
- Listen more than you speak.
- Keep your work/life roles in perspective, making room for fulfillment in all of them.
The Encompass Group culture has taught me so much about being a better leader. I can point to five primary characteristics that have contributed to its leadership position:
- A focus on people, not transactions
- A dedication to innovation
- Reliability, delivering what’s promised but not overpromising
- Integrity, treating customers, partners, and employees with respect
- Giving back, sharing success with those in need
Achieving a leadership role as an organization or an individual must be nurtured and grown over time. Never take it for granted! As many of us explore our feelings of gratitude this month, I hope you will be thankful for the company you keep - at work, at home, and in your community.
Michelle Daniels is Vice President - Product Strategy, Development and Administration for Encompass Group, LLC