How often have you heard that leaders have to “walk the talk?” But how often has a leader you admire disappointed you with either their comments or behavior? We ask ourselves “what were they thinking?”
Being a positive role model and leading by example is something I take very seriously – in both my professional and personal life.
I am deeply touched by the congratulatory notes and kind words I’ve received after it was recently announced that CHIME and HIMSS selected me to receive the John E. Gall, Jr. CIO of the Year Award.
Awards like this don’t happen for CIOs without great teams. I’m extremely grateful for all the talented and dedicated IT teams I’ve worked with over the years. Special thanks to my MCIT team at Michigan for the excellent work they do every day!
This award is named in honor of John E. Gall, Jr. who pioneered the implementation of healthcare information systems at El Camino Hospital in the 1960. The award recognizes a CIO who demonstrates significant leadership in healthcare and is given for a lifetime of success and achievement as a CIO in the healthcare IT industry. The past recipients are some of the greatest leaders in our industry and I’m humbled to be part of this group.
Two of the many criteria for this award are worth noting here:
- Represents the highest standards of leadership in Health IT
- Is respected and recognized as a role model to peers and the industry
I take my leadership responsibility very seriously.
But I have many roles in life — and being a leader is just one of them. One of my most important roles is mother. Someone else can do my job at work, but no one can replace me as mother to my two daughters. I have raised two smart, talented, young women who are mothers now themselves. I have tried to be a role model for them in many different ways, including as a professional female leader. My mother and leader roles converged this week when I heard from them after the award was announced. Like parents often do, I had a tear and a laugh!
My daughter in Boston, a nurse practitioner, wrote:
“My mother has always been an inspiration and role model for me but it is so wonderful to see how influential she is to others in her field! She is creating a legacy in healthcare information systems that is essential to the delivery of modern healthcare! So proud of you Mom!”
My daughter in California wrote:
“Mom, you’re always inspirational. I’m watching Celebrity Apprentice right now, and these bimbos are baking pies and begging rich friends for money, and then bickering in front of Trump in cocktail dresses. And I’m so happy that smart women with integrity exist and thrive in business for my daughters and me to look up to. Even better they’re in my family.”
Last year I wrote to my staff about my involvement in national organizations. I got a great note from one of our application coordinators working on Meaningful Use. She said she is currently a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student with an informatics focus at Madonna University and interested in learning as much as she can about the evolving HIT trends and regulatory issues affecting our organization. She wrote: “I find it exceptionally exciting and inspirational that you represent our organization, IT leaders, and women everywhere through your participation in planning committees at the national level.” I was pleased to see how I was being a positive role model for her.
So what does lead by example mean? We expect leaders to provide a vision and to inspire us. We want them to be genuine. They need to care about people, and to take time to get to know us. They need to nurture and encourage the people they lead. They need to give people opportunities to develop and be willing to step back and let them grow, guiding them when needed. Their values should be clear and you should be able to see those values in action.
That’s what “walk the talk” and “lead by example” means. It’s visible, it’s real. It’s hard. We all have our imperfections and bad days, but we owe it to ourselves and those who come after us to do the best we can!