4 Questions – Grow Your Executive Career in Healthcare

The way to gain opportunity

“Don’t confuse Career Advancement with Career Development or Career Counseling.
Career Development is about work skills. Career Counseling is about work placement skills. Career Advancement is about political skills and working the system.”

~ L. Flores ~

Carter works as a healthcare executive in a large regional hospital. “The new healthcare law changes the whole game,” he says. “The hospital is scrambling to find new ways to cut costs. Long time positions are under the ax and people need to expect to do more.”

Career development is important to Carter.  He not only wants to keep his job, he wants to grow with the new changes.  Carter entered healthcare because he loves serving and making a difference to people.  Now his goal is to find a way to make the new laws work in his hospital. At the same time, he wants to continue to grow his career.

“I asked myself a series of questions so I could position myself for success,” Carter said. “I wanted to continue to add value to the hospital and to advance myself.”

1. What’s Changing?  To stay on top of things, Carter needed to know what would be changing.  This meant reading up on the trends, the commentaries, even going into the thousands and thousands of pages of the new law.

He checked with other hospitals to see how they were dealing with the impact.

2. What’s Essential? Carter looked at all the hospital staff to evaluate what could be cut and what was most essential.  Who was adding value?

Next he examined how he could add value. What could he do in his current position to best assist the hospital transition? Which positions above him would likely be retained?

“It would be stupid to try to work into a job that might not be there in a year or two,” Carter said. “So I needed to be strategic in looking at my career development.

3. What New Qualifications Do I Need?  “As I looked at that next position, I evaluated what additional skills, education, and leadership I would need to step into that healthcare executive spot,” Carter said.  He listed them and worked to put himself in the place to get them.

“Ideally, I didn’t just want to match the skills of that executive,” Carter said.  “I wanted to be better.  I wanted to be more qualified.”

4. How Can I Make Myself Indispensable?  “I decided to develop my career by making myself as valuable as I could.  Both in my current job and my desired advancement, I wanted to be known as the guy who would always come through.” Carter said.

He looked at what was important to his boss.  And he tried to make sure that everything he did added to the bottom line of the hospital. Cost-cutting ideas.  Streamlining processes. Technological advancements.

“I felt if I added value to my boss and his goals, and if I made a difference to the hospital’s focus of both patient care and cost cutting, that would be the best use of my time and efforts,” Carter said. “I also worked to make sure my work was visible to key people.”

For Carter, his questions and answers paid off. He saw his career develop as he moved into the healthcare executive position he’d wanted.  And he continued to gain fulfillment in the industry he loved.

If your healthcare job may be at risk, contact Joel and learn the skills and resources to keep your job and advance your career.

 Talkback: What have you done to keep your career development on track in the midst of the healthcare law changes?

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Cognitive Development Skills
to Accelerate Leadership


“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

~Daniel Goleman ~

Henry is in high level management of a dominant retail company.  Because it spreads nationally with global products, Henry deals with leaders on all levels.

“We’ve learned that intelligence, determination, and vision alone, will not guarantee a successful leader,” Henry says. “When we can accelerate cognitive development, we have a better chance at creating successful managers and executives.”

Henry explains that they like promoting from within. The more they can understand and accelerate the abilities of their team to grow these leadership skills, the more successful their leaders become.

“Cognitive development is a way of thinking differently,” Henry says. “How do they interact, motivate, and regulate themselves?  How do they think about themselves and to what degree are they concerned about others?”

Henry feels these five specific skills give them a higher probability of becoming successful leaders.

1. Realistic Self-Confidence.  Good leaders understand who they are.  They recognize their moods, emotions, and what drives them.   They know that their moods affect those around them.  Their excitement is contagious.  Their displeasure can be motivating or discouraging depending on how they use it.

People with cognitive awareness of their strengths and weaknesses tend to not take themselves too seriously.  They can laugh at themselves as they build up others.

2. Self Control.  Powerful leaders learn not to react immediately to problems or situations.  They have the ability to suspend judgment and to think before acting.  This gives them time to consider alternatives and options, to step back and evaluate more thoroughly.  They can be open to change.

Self control also helps leaders avoid leading with negative emotions.  When they master themselves, it’s easier to act with integrity and to be trustworthy.

3. Motivation.  Every leader must be a self-starter.  Sometimes it seems leadership is swimming upstream.  It takes that inner motivation to move forward and influence your organization to produce.

Leaders need a passion beyond money to motivate them to want to work.  Even beyond status.  “This is one of the traits we discover,” Henry says. “If the leader we are grooming doesn’t have this motivation, there’s not much we can do.”

You’ll see evidence of a manager’s motivation through his team’s commitment to succeed and his or her strong desire to achieve. 

4. Understanding People.  Leaders need to know what makes people tick.  What emotions cause them to work hard?  What concerns reduce efficiency?  Good leaders are adept at seeing things from someone else’s point of view. Then, the master leader uses that knowledge to help each person be their best.

Leaders develop cognitive awareness of the people around them.  This accelerates their leadership expertise as they build trust and retain talent.  They exhibit more cross-cultural sensitivity and give better service to customers and clients because they have empathy.

5. Relationship Management. “We find our successful leaders understand how to build networks,” Henry said.  “They listen.  They respond.  And the employees respond to them. It can’t be a manipulative kind of thing. It has to be genuine.”

Leaders use social skills to find common ground, build rapport, and persuade. This is essential in team building.  The majority of our communications are non-verbal. A raised eye-brow. A nod. A pat on the back.  Leaders with great social skills connect with their organization.

As Henry works with his succession plan, he tries to develop these cognitive leadership traits and increase their strength in each prospective leader. “When we do this, we find it accelerates or amplifies all their other virtues of intelligence, skill sets, and experience,” Henry says. “We are pleased with our results.”

Are you looking for a way to ramp up the effective cognitive development of your leadership? Contact Joel to help you expand on these traits.

Talkback: In your experience, how essential are these cognitive traits for successful leadership?

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5 Steps to Finding Strong Business
Career Development Programs


“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

~ Helen Keller ~

Client Stephanie asks:  I’m really disappointed!  I paid a lot of money for a business career development program.  It promised to give me all the knowledge I needed to really move my career forward.  Then I invested all this time and effort.  And I really haven’t seen any results at all.  I feel cheated.

What should I look for in career development programs, so I can really see my business career take off?

Coach Joel Answers:  First, you need to set realistic expectations for all business career development programs.  They are not the be all and end all of career advancement.  They can play a key role in growing your skills and knowledge, but they have limits.

Typically they give you knowledge and skill sets, but they don’t always tailor the class to your needs.  Nor do they analyze your progress in a real-job way or give you opportunities to implement what you’ve learned.

Even after the course you need to practice implementation, gain visibility and influence, and work with your boss to find places to put your new skills into practice.

Assuming you are doing everything right, here are some valuable keys to uncover strong business development programs—programs which might help with your career growth.

1. Not all programs address the same thing.  Some focus on new graduates and helping them find jobs or learn about career opportunities in different businesses.  So if you’re just out of college, these may be great programs for you.

If you are further down the experience path, these programs will not move your career along. So as you investigate a program, ask who its intended participants are.  What are the specific skills, knowledge, abilities they will teach?

2. Evaluate your own career goals.  Stephanie, look at the current skills you have and the areas you need to improve.  Will this particular career development program address the weak areas you want to strengthen?

Don’t hesitate to call the school or company offering it and ask in depth questions.  This is your time and money.  You need to see that it profits you.

3. Will you get knowledge or application? Simple book learning or even audio or video learning can only take you so far.  Do you have a chance to apply what you learn?  Do you have interaction with other employees, role playing, modeling and other ways to practice your new found skills?

4. How much feedback will you get? Sometimes we cannot see our weaknesses.  We might think we are being direct.  Others may see it as an attack.  Will your business career development program give you the kind of feedback that will be meaningful to you?

Stephanie, you may find your career needs more individual attention than a career development program can give you.  At times you’ll get more rapid advancement through a mentoring program or a coaching program.

Your business may also have a strong career development program you are not familiar with. It may let you try out different areas in the company.  It may help you work on new skills, find new opportunities to grow, and give you frequent feedback.  Check with your boss or HR department.

5. Look at the credentials of the business offering the career development program.  Do they have a history of success?  Can you talk to other graduates and learn the strengths and shortcomings they found in the program?  Are they well known?

Do they have books, articles, or other resources you can review for free?  Then you can see their philosophy, teaching style, and content.  You can see if it will be a comfortable fit for you.

Stephanie, I know it hurts to feel you’ve wasted your money.  However, every experience can be a learning experience.  Now you know what to look for in strong business career development programs.

When you search again, you will have the fundamentals necessary to make a good investment choice.

If you are uncertain whether a career development program would help you advance at this stage in your career, contact Joel.  He will help you see the best path for you to use to advance your career.

Talkback: How have you invested in business career development?  Have you used a program you thought was effective… or not very effective?

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Fast-track Your Career Advancement with the
Aid of Your Company’s Succession Planning Model

Going to the Top

“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”

~ Abraham Maslow ~

Client Sylvia Asks: I want to get promoted.  I even see the job I’d like to get.  But I don’t know how to position myself so that I’ll be the natural choice for that promotion.

Coach Joel Answers:  Sylvia, almost every company has a succession planning model in place.  They identify the skills needed for each job.  Then they look at potential employees and evaluate them based on those essential skills.

When you understand how the succession planning model works, you can take advantage of that knowledge to help groom yourself for the next level.

1. Understand the demands of the job you want.  You can look at the job and recognize some of the skills and competencies needed.  Write them down.  Look at what the current job holder has to do.

List his duties. What kinds of responsibilities does the job have?  Next list the skills needed to do the job. Will you need great communication skills?  Good decision making skills?  Will you need to build a team, work in customer care, arbitrate, or give directions?

You do not have to create this list all by yourself.  It is likely that the company already has a list in their succession planning materials.  Discuss this with your supervisor or with HR to see what qualities they require for this job.  You might do this at your annual review or you can request a time to talk to your boss about your career advancement aspirations.

2. Evaluate where you are now and where you need to be.  Make a list of your skills and qualifications.  Review your past jobs and look at the qualities you exhibited there.

Now match them to the list of skills needed for your ideal job.  Where do you match up?  Where do you come short?

Again, you will likely want to review this with your boss. You may be surprised to find that she does not see in you all the qualifications you see in yourself.  She may also recognize competencies in you that you have not considered.

As you share with her your goals, see if you can get buy-in from her to support you in your aspirations for this job. It may be that she will add you to the organization’s succession planning model for that next position.

Even if that does not formally happen, you can still take the organization’s succession planning information to plot your own career advancement goals.

3. Obtain the needed competencies and skill sets.  Now that you have the two lists, work to make them match.  Fill in the gaps to make you the ideal candidate for the job.

You’re a step ahead because your boss knows your goals.  You can study, get coaching, and join professional organizations on your own.  But you’ll need assistance from your organization to cross train, find a mentor, or be placed on committees, teams, and task forces that will give you the skills you need.

By following the same plan the company does as they look at succession planning, you model your career advancement on this information as well. When your skills match their own standards for your dream job, you will become the natural choice to step into that position.

To define your personal succession plan and claim your next step up, contact Joel.

Talkback: Have you discussed your next step with your boss?  How has the idea of succession planning helped you focus on the skills you must first acquire?

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