It’s quite clear that, in order to be considered a strong performer, the most important thing to do is work hard and consistently deliver superior results. In a professional workplace, however, this is not enough. I have found additional fulfillment by demonstrating my willingness to go the extra mile. I became involved with assignments outside my daily work and become engaged in broader projects, from organizing child care provision at the local site, to involving wide groups of employees in our team’s diversity and inclusion activities. Ultimately, what I wanted was to be recognized as a genuine leader—one considered truly authentic—not only because of what I have achieved, but also because of who I am.
There are books and courses to help you understand what being authentic looks like, but unless you are prepared to actively listen to people and genuinely care about their feedback on your strengths and development areas, you will likely never achieve it. Take the time you need, away from the myriad distractions and symbols of management, to be with others. Make sure you are focused on them, wherever they happen to be in the organization, by truly being present and in the moment. I invested time in this way and quickly saw where there were opportunities to step in, to volunteer myself for certain tasks, and to provide support at both team and individual levels.
Most important, I have always made positive choices regarding where I wanted to go next—a role, a challenge, or a team. I have made these decisions without feeling the need to make compromises in either my personal or professional life, but based on the great passion I have developed for what I am doing.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
It is critical to not just follow the market, but to drive it by anticipating health trends. For me, it is also essential to create a culture built around “winning for patients” and ensuring each associate knows what the organization’s purpose and vision are. One must strive for the highest level of quality and integrity, and build diverse teams that drive innovation, while acting as a role model for the best values and behaviors.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
I have learned a great deal from the experience and wisdom of two key former managers, and their inspiration to be an authentic leader by developing my own style. They also helped me understand the importance of trusting myself to make good business decisions, and being authentic and genuine.
Susanne’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Be clear about what you want and how to get there. Choose a mentor to help map your career plan, considering all options to expand your depth and breadth of experience, including possibly accepting lateral career moves to achieve this. If you are not mobile or cannot work full time, propose solutions to overcome these restrictions. And don’t forget to build a strong internal and external support network.