The playing field has never been level and debris-free when it comes to opportunity and advancement. There are random factors, like luck and timing, which can clear a path to success. Attitudes and expectations also create mountains and valleys that can impede career progress—particularly for those who are diverse.
Nonetheless, many healthcare professionals from diverse backgrounds push through, around, and over those barriers to achieve leadership positions. The challenge is how to ensure that more diverse early careerists get the boost or the vault they need to reach their leadership potential. The benefits for diversity are not to individuals alone. They extend to the healthcare field as well.
In a recent article in Healthcare Executive magazine, Tiffany Love, PhD, FACHE, Chief Nursing Officer at Coastal Healthcare Alliance in Rockport, Maine, explains, “Building a high-performing diverse leadership team is critical for healthcare organizations to remain innovative and identify ways to add value for our nation’s increasingly diverse population.”
Her solution: experienced healthcare executive mentors that understand the specific challenges for diverse early careerists. Empathic mentors can be levelers that enable their mentees to propel forward to greater success.
Love has five recommendations for how to focus these mentor-mentee relationships.
- Work together on SMART career goals. Those are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-related objectives. Examples include identifying continuing education programs for the mentee to help acquire C-suite leadership skills.
- Create a resume that’s a great communication tool. An experienced eye can help a mentee clearly explain previous positions to place them in the best light. Also valuable is how-to advice for aligning a resume to the requirements of an aspirational role.
- Get strategic on advancement. A career plan can provide essential direction and milestones to reach. An experienced mentor can be an invaluable guide in mapping the plan, including steps to follow to reach a C-suite destination.
- Share unwritten rules of the C-suite. This may be among the biggest benefits of a mentor. The “inside scoop” on what’s expected in terms of communication style and content, demeanor, and more, can help ensure an early careerist “talks the talk and walks the walk” of a top healthcare executive.
- Do as I do. Mentors who are great leaders provide that priceless thousand-word picture of how a leader looks, listens, and acts. Invite a mentee to shadow you on the job or for an event. You’ll be helping to develop “the increasingly complex” — and more diverse — “healthcare system of the future,” predicts Dr. Love.
Nicholas R. Tejeda, FACHE, on Strategic Risk-Taking for Diverse Early Careerists
“I don’t believe there are many career decisions that can truly be considered major risks, particularly for early careerists….The true risk in my opinion is avoiding risk and deciding to accept the status quo.” Get more of Tejeda’s advice on advancing inclusive leadership at EDCN and Congress.
For ACHE Members: The ACHE Leadership Mentoring Network offers opportunities for learning and development through one-to-one mentoring experiences. ACHE members may request a mentor or explore how to become one.
Also available to support diverse leaders in their healthcare administration careers is the Executive Diversity Career Navigator, a collaboration of ACHE and other healthcare association partners promoting diversity. Visit EDCN to explore the range of services.