Whenever I face challenges in my life I think of my grandmother Mary Anna. She approached life with fearless tenacity. In every circumstance, she praised and thanked her Lord and Savior. She often told me “Chin up, hold your head high, everything will be ok”. Most of the time she was right, everything eventually worked out.
I am not tenacious by any means. Shy, timid and inquisitive are closer to the mark. However, this is how I face my current circumstances; thanking and praising God amid it. The bible says, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4). I try my best to choose joy in hard times as much as possible. I firmly believe if you weren’t meant to walk through it God would not have brought you to it. Every circumstance is a choice in how we react to it. Conditions change, dreams change how we react is everything. Most events provide us with the opportunity for personal growth.
Change is a part of life, I choose to accept it and ride the wave. Professionally things change fast and quick. Deadlines are tight, time is always against us. We are always problem-solving. Working under the second largest health authority in Canada means working with a lot of people. Our organization has many departments with multiple moving parts. To navigate within the organization successfully, you must be comfortable with change.
Part of being a strategic leader is learning the ins and outs of the company. I worked many different jobs in my company. I think it is essential to understand what your staff is going through at every level. Spending the time to learn about every department will pay off in the long run.
I recently completed the Gallup Strengths Finder test. I encourage anyone wanting to know more about their strengths to take the test. Under the strategic leadership qualities, my strengths came out as futuristic and learner. My results were not a shock at all. I concentrate on the larger picture, weeks, months and years into the future. I go into detail and see how far I can plan before it gets vague.
In my personal life, I take one day at a time. My adult life is not free of stressors by any means. We got married with no savings and no financial plan. This led to our first few years of marriage living with three roommates. Not ideal but we had to pay down our debt. Owing money caused a lot of stress to the newlywed life. We suffered through multiple miscarriages and health issues. We didn’t think we would stay married.
Through all these trials of my faith, I learned I had no clue how to handle the stress of life. I internalized and punished myself for my misgivings and failures. The guilt of not being able to carry a child brought me immense pain, anxiety, and depression. Growing up in the church I was afraid as I viewed anxiety as a sin. The stress got so intense that I couldn’t forgive myself and I alienated myself from close friends even my husband. I lost a lot of those friends. I feared I would lose my beloved husband.
By God’s grace, we made it through that trying time, and we came out stronger than ever. Our crucibles strengthened our marriage. We were able to pay off our debts and buy our first home together last year. Then we moved to a brand-new city, where I had no friends, no job and no family, no church family. I was forced to start over. I feel like God indeed removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
I believe we are meant to go through difficult seasons in our life. I try my best to find joy, take delight in the little things. I try not to take things and myself too seriously.
Professionally when I fail, I dare to get back up and try again. It may not look the same. It will be difficult, but I promise you it will be worth it. In healthcare, things change with a moment’s notice. We, professionals, are forced to make a lot of small decisions that impact people’s lives.
Mission statements are vital to setting the tone of an organization. Not only do they give the employees something to aspire to. One can learn a lot about an organization by their mission statement.
Hughes, Colarelli-Beatty & Dinwoodie explain strategy: is maximized when it also involves aspirational dimensions that touch the emotions of all the stakeholders involved: employees, current and future clients and customers the general public, owners and shareholders. Organizational mission, vision, and values are important aspirational components that create meaning and purpose for these stakeholders. (Hughes et. al. 2014, p. 25).
My mission statement both personally and professionally was born out of many trials and failures. When I was in my twenties I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. No clear vision, so I tried everything. I felt like a colossal failure. My sister always wanted to be a teacher, and she knew it from a very young age. For a long time, I felt jealous of that. Looking back working in many different industries gave me a great perspective. It educated me in a way I didn’t expect. It was quite clear what I enjoyed and what I didn’t. From there I weighed my options core versus chore jobs. I found healthcare was my niche. Below is my mission statement I believe that reflects my personal and professional journey.
“Never give up, have the courage to try again. Use failure for the powerful tool it can be in your life. Don’t look at failure as a negative thing. Look at failure as an opportunity for growth. What can you learn from it? Never withhold good from those who deserve it. Be gracious and kind always. Be open to new opportunities as they arise. Be collaborative. If you don’t know to do something, don’t be afraid to seek direction. Educate, assess and reassess. Every interaction we have with other people is an opportunity for influence. We can learn from each other in every situation. Never forget who you are and where you came from.”
It aligns with my future personal and professional development because it speaks to where I was, where I am and gives hope to the future.
Wants & Goals
I want more education for the things I do not understand. I love to learn and worked hard to become better at understanding and forgiving myself. Through taking the Birkman Assessment, I became more self-aware. I am a blue /yellow on the Birkman scale. High relational and high analytical. I also am extremely sensitive. I want to strengthen my responses by removing the emotion. Be more objective in my decisions. I learned it is a blessing and curse to feel things so deeply. It took me a while to be ok with being unable to change how sensitive and empathetic I am.
I want to learn everything I can in my field. I want to be in a top management position. I have worked my way up from a grassroots level. Started doing janitorial then became a Care-Aide, worked in facility, hospice, acute and long-term care settings. Then moved to Home Health where I gave the care, and now I manage a team that coordinates the care. It is a huge opportunity to manage my team. I love my job.
I want to be able to lead with grace and confidence and foster real change in senior care. My heart loves seniors so much. Probably why I’ve spent so much of my career with seniors. Currently, there are a lot of barriers surrounding senior care. I would love to make senior care more accessible to those who are unable to afford proper care. My long-term goal is to become a nurse practitioner. While the nursing part has not worked out yet, I have hope that with God all things are possible.
Strengths & Weaknesses
My strengths are relationally based. I love to study what makes a person tick. What inspires people, and how I can help them achieve their best self. My weakness is I am very sensitive to other people’s emotions, and this can cloud my vision. I start to feel over-responsible for them and take on their feelings.
My strengths reveal I am an achiever; I like to get things done. I love to learn and educate myself, so I can solve problems objectively with ease. I am futuristic and always have my mind on the coming months and years ahead. In my professional life, this helps with trend forecasting and growing our business. My weakness is loving hard work. A lot of my colleagues jokingly call me a workhorse. I can spend hours invested in projects without realizing how much time has passed. The weakness here is having trouble stepping away to recharge or refocus. I lose time with my team as I get focused on one task.
I think my biggest strategic driver is proving to myself I can, and I will accomplish my goals. For many years I was told I was unintelligent, and I believed it. I am a big believer in words and their impact on people. When we have children, I want them to believe in themselves. How can I teach them if I don’t believe in myself? Believing in myself and proving the small voice saying I can’t, wrong is my most significant driver.
Another Strategic driver is wanting to be an advocate for real change in senior care. Currently, the system is quite broken. There are many gaps within senior care, and I want to help close the gaps and make care accessible to all seniors no matter their station in life.
The areas to abandon for future development is the individualist school of thought. To make waves within the organization I need a cohesive team. Hughes, Colarelli Beatty, & Dinwoodie state “each skill set has a specific role and purpose, but it would be a mistake to view them as totally separate” ( p.49). Each person brings something different to the team. When we utilize each team member’s strengths and come together great things can be accomplished.
The areas I excel in are relational. My friends will tell you I love them well. I love taking care of people. Making other people feel loved. Professionally building partnerships and coalitions with people is something that comes naturally. In my profession, it is vital to building relationships with people in different departments and agencies. We all work under the same umbrella of healthcare, but our jobs are vastly different. Dealing with people impartially is one of my core values. I strive to do this well. People think it comes naturally to me. I think it is a learned adaptive skill I worked hard on and continue to develop.
The culture I am currently trying to build is a respectful workplace. Sounds easy right? Unfortunately, when the original office broke into two, a lot of bad habits came with the split. Before the division the culture was toxic. A lot of gossip and negativity. I want my staff to be happy to come to work every day. I want to build a positive culture to facilitate creativity, innovation and above all kindness.
The culture I am cultivating aligns with my personal mission statement because I believe in kindness and it’s power. I think the culture of a company comes down to how you treat people. There needs to be openness and a safe space where vulnerability is welcome. If not the environment becomes hostile and stagnant. People start to feel undervalued, and underutilized.
Old Versus New economy
In my position, one old economy thinking and practice I noticed is “leadership existing as a position of entitlement” (2016, Ungerer, Ungerer & Herholdt, p.15). In my current position, I manage a team of 13. We are currently in a period of Transition as our head office broke into two offices. This was due to a period of overwhelming growth. I started quite low in my company and have slowly worked my way up to where I am now. Two years ago, I started committing each workday to the Lord and asked him to guide me and help me glorify him in my work. During this time there were many obstacles. Our Management team was not communicating what the decision for the division of the office. People felt displaced and were nervous about the future. During this time, I received a promotion. I was met with a lot of resistance from my team as I made the transition from fellow coordinator to the supervisor of the coordinators. Many of my coworkers felt that I was wrong for the position. As I got my own office space and was sat on the opposite side of the office I realized putting physical distance between myself and the coordinators was hurting my team and further fueling resentment. I learned from my team that they felt I was acting entitled in my new role. I was quite astonished as I did not perceive myself to be working any differently. My perspective was trying to navigate the muddy waters of transition. Once I communicated to my team I was an advocate for them and they understood I saw a shift. I started serving them, sitting with them in the trenches. When I moved my desk to be in view of theirs. They trusted me to lead them. Taking a servant leadership approach changed my work life. I am blessed to see success using this model.
For myself I know I can work quite well with others and independently. One thing causing me stress professionally is when my coworkers show indecisiveness and uncertainty. Undefined parameters and anxiousness make me lose focus and slows down the process. Effective leaders need to be transparent.
When we look at Leadership in the DAC model, Direction Alignment and commitment it becomes clear that successful strategic leadership comes from collaboration ( Hughes, Colarelli-Beatty &Dinwoodie,p.49). In today’s VUCA world we see the benefit of combining individual strengths to accomplish organizational goals.
I’ve discovered through this course that my strategic skill set is in strategic thinking. It became quite clear in the readings this week. I possess an awareness of the symbiotic connection between the environment and the company. I can use this knowledge for our benefit. My mind is always weeks, months and even years into the future. I love looking at and identifying trends for future strategies. I am a learner and educate myself on various subjects so I can communicate new knowledge to my team for strategic planning. Strategic leadership is ever evolving, the more we experience, the more we learn, the more we connect, and it changes.
To become a better strategic leader I need to gain confidence in strategic acting. I know how to make decisions fast. I need to be more confident in clearing the cobwebs and prioritizing. I need to learn how to strategically influence. I need to use existing and new connections as systems of influence.
I believe our individual experience directly influences our leadership style. In my life, I have seen a lot of loss. Where there is a loss there is also hope renewed. Adversity and heartache have humanized me and made me a better leader. Leadership is about connecting with people. My crucibles helped me connect to a wide range of people. There is power in our story, our lives influence our strategic leadership.
Hughes, R. L., Beatty, Collarelli-Beatty, K., & Dinwoodie, D. L. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader: Your role in your organization’s enduring success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Ungerer, M., Ungerer, G., & Herholdt, J. (2016). Navigating strategic possibilities: Strategy formulation and execution practices to flourish. Randburg: KR Publishing