When I interview senior IT leaders, one of the key questions I ask is “describe your management style, how do others perceive you as a manager?” I am always interested to hear how CIOs and other senior healthcare IT leaders describe themselves. If I ask their colleagues or staff, I may get a whole different assessment of their style. What you want to be aware of is how you are perceived by your team and what improvements might be necessary to enhance your style.
Your management style is shaped and formed by your training and experience. Having a great mentor or manager in your early work life seems to help form good habits and skills in working with people. Early management responsibilities in high school, college or the military can be great stepping stones to advancement in your career. Not everyone aspires to be a leader or part of management; some are content to be part of the team or an individual contributor. If you are a health system CIO, you have already chosen a path of management and have developed a set of skills in managing. But how would you describe your style in a sentence or two, if I asked you?
Here are some interview responses from CIOs and senior IT leaders describing their management style. Take note and craft your management description.
- “I’m a big picture leader, who has a calming influence on my team. I can delegate, gain consensus, empower the team, but also jump in if needed.”
- I’m very collaborative, not a micro-manager. My office is the place to get information and the door is always open,”
- “I stress the importance of great customer service and how this department can be the face of IT. I communicate that to the team, and what their role is in the organization.”
- “My style is to build relationships, be a change agent, hire well and develop staff and then get out of their way.”
- “I am considered very approachable, very open, very compassionate, and able to ask the right questions.”
- “My style is servant leadership; I enjoy mentoring and teaching staff in a positive manner.”
- “I came from the user environment, so I find ways to support my team and let them do their thing.”
As you can see, key words and phrases are common when IT executives describe their style: collaborative, not a micromanager, change agent, approachable, open, gain consensus, empower, mentor and support the team. So evaluate your own style and ask for feedback from others, such as your boss, colleagues and subordinates. Be ready to describe your style in a couple of sentences. Be prepared to build and improve your style throughout your career — it is a key part of your reputation, and the way you will be evaluated for your next position.