My leadership style has been greatly influenced by the experiences and lessons I have learned from strong leaders and mentors in my career.
As a child of hard-working Midwesterners, I developed a strong work ethic and sense of self at an early age. From my first baby-sitting job at the age of 11 until today, I continue to take on increasingly challenging roles. Navigating these more complex business situations challenges me to rely on my instincts and experiences to stay focused on the tasks at hand.
Along the way, I have had the privilege of interacting with leaders who took personal interest in my professional growth, encouraging me to honor my values, sense of teamwork, perseverance, love of learning and respect for individuality. Most importantly, each of them demonstrated the importance of sharing my leadership philosophy with others. Today, in turn, I view the development of future leaders as the most important part of my job.
While it’s easy to understand the influence of positive role models, I have found you can learn from negative experiences as well. Early in my career, I saw firsthand the harmful effects poor leaders can have on team morale and business results. I learned from this experience to always be conscious of the impact my attitudes and behaviors have on those around me.
Support from a strong mentor can help you take on exciting challenges. One of the greatest opportunities of my career came when I relocated my family from the Midwest to the East Coast to lead the Northeast health care management division. My mentor during this time was a guiding force in my ability to manage a formidable personal and professional challenge, helping me to grow tremendously as an individual and as a leader.
Working for a company that supports opportunities for women and values diversity in its leadership has contributed greatly to my success. WellPoint also takes great pride in developing its leaders. Participating in the Emerging Leaders Program—a program that provided a full complement of development for high-potential leaders—was instrumental in preparing me for my newest challenge as president of the Northeast region.
My best advice is to seek out good mentors, learn from your experiences and commit to nurturing new leaders. Being a good leader is the greatest gift you can give to those around you—and the greatest honor you can show your own mentors.