Behind every accomplished individual is at least one person who helped shape his or her career and pave the way to success. In recognition of these mentors, healthsystemCIO.com has developed a blog series that provides a forum for health IT leaders to acknowledge those who gave them an opportunity to excel and taught valuable lessons along the way. It’s a chance to give back to those who have given so much of their time and attention. If you are interested in contributing to this series, contact Kate Gamble.
As a child I had many mentors: a grandmother who helped build the foundation to be a strong woman, and my mother, who encouraged traveling the unbeaten path with compassion and creativity. My no-fluff mentors were my engineering grandfather and my father, who provided the framework to never give up and taught me that there is a solution to everything. From a child’s perspective it didn’t matter who my mentors were; it only mattered that they believed in me and spent quality time with me.
As adults, we seek advice as much as we did as children, if not more. The difference is that a professional mentor is more often outside the circle of family and friends. Finding someone in your professional life who will accept you for who you are, who sees your potential, and who supports and encourages your professional growth is hard.
I was lucky that my mentor found me. Harold Krueger, our hospital’s CEO, recognized the ambition and determination I had to be successful, and most importantly, saw my potential. At the time I was not sure I saw what he saw in me, but I am glad he did. I would not be where I am today if he had not believed in me. He empowered me to take risks, to be innovative, and to make mistakes — but certainly not repeat them.
Harold has been an empowering mentor and leader. He believes in life’s balances, and that it is not about how great a person is, but how great you can be. He has an “open door” policy which seems simple enough, but is very effective. Sometimes just having a good listener and sounding board was all I needed. His most effective mentoring arsenal was not to give me the solutions, but to simply help me find the solutions on my own. I learned quickly that going to him with a problem and no idea for a solution was a waste of both our time.
No matter how often I wanted turn-by-turn directions on how to succeed, he challenged me to get there — wherever ‘there’ may have been. Having him as a mentor has been very challenging at times, but I would not trade what I have learned from him for the world. He has taught me that mentorship is a two-way street; you need to be willing to put in the hard work, because a truly great mentor will not give you the answers, but will help guide you in the right direction. He has been an immeasurable influence on my professional growth, and I treasure that.
The next best thing to having a great mentor is networking. For me, networking with CIOs from other healthcare facilities (you know who you are, and I thank you) has also enriched my professional life. Networking is an incredible way to share knowledge with one another, learn from others and support each other. The networking pool is saturated with great people who can be there for you in a pinch. The more mentors the nation has, the brighter our future becomes.