Women have something unique and powerful to contribute to healthcare leadership, but it can be tricky to be heard and get results in today’s leadership culture without losing yourself. This is why it is important to understand leadership branding.
Because there’s this pervasive myth that gets in the way: If a woman wants to lead, she can’t be herself AND make the difference she wants to make.
She’s told not to be too emotional, too bossy, too much — or not enough!
This advice makes you doubt yourself and your leadership brand. It undermines your confidence, your success and your quality of life.
And it’s lousy advice.
What’s true is that being your best self is essential to being an effective leader.
A successful woman leader knows her strengths and uses them. Instead of putting energy into being careful, she focuses on being real, authentic and intentional.
Strong leadership branding is key to opening doors to being heard and getting results with authenticity:
“I intend to be known for being innovatively decisive, strategically inspired, and consistently trustworthy in a culture where people want to engage and excel in our mission…” (CMO at a federally-qualified health center)
Your leadership brand tells people what to expect from you. It’s rooted in your values and what you stand for; it differentiates you from others:
“I want to be known for being strategically passionate, holistically results-oriented and a change agent so I can create a financially viable palliative care program…” (Regional Medical Director)
A clear and compelling leadership brand ensures that you get your message heard and have the impact you want – so that you’re walking your talk and inspiring others to follow in your footsteps:
“I want to be known for being approachably intelligent, conscientiously committed and innovatively quality-oriented while creating an accredited breast center that provides top notch breast care…” (Fellowship-trained breast surgeon)
And whether you know it or not, you already have a leadership brand!Your reputation is based on interactions people have had with you. For instance,
Your reputation is based on interactions people have had with you. For instance, you might already have a reputation as a hard worker, a team player, or a lone wolf.
How well does your brand convey your true identity and distinctiveness? Ask yourself:
- Are my actions aligned with my intentions?
- Am I known for what I’m good at and like to do?
- Am I having the impact I want to have?
If you answered no to any of those questions, it might be time to update your leadership brand.
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Think of a specific situation where you are struggling to influence a resistant colleague, boss or spouse. You’ve used reason, facts, appealed to their emotions and still can’t convince them. Frustrating, right? Successful women physicians use these key phrases to gain more influence.
Dale Carnegie may have said it best when he said, “There is only one way…to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the person want to do it.”
Here are some simple tips my physician clients find helpful to gain more influence, and get people to want to do things for you:
Put Others First to Gain More Influence
It’s difficult to persuade others to help us with a ‘me first’ approach. “I’ll be a more attentive spouse when he/she is more attentive towards me,” or “I’ll work harder when my boss recognizes my contribution.” What do they need, expect or lack? When people feel seen and heard they’re much more likely to help you achieve what you want.
Distinguish Between the Need vs. Want of the Other Party
How? Hone your ability to read between the lines. When people say they want more time off work what they’re really saying is they need to do more of is most meaningful. When they say they want to be heard perhaps what they need is to be understood.
These 3 phrases appeal to a person’s sense of safety, belonging, and esteem and are helpful in influencing others to follow your lead.
- “What if…” This phrase depersonalizes the situation and creates an environment conducive to problem solving. “What if we were to try solution x?”
- “I need your help…” This reverses roles and shifts the power dynamic, putting a subordinate in an empowered leadership role. “I need your help to solve this problem…”
- “Would it be helpful if…” The spotlight moves from the problem and focuses attention on the solution. “Would it be helpful is we tried x instead of y?”
Whether you are the CMO trying to improve patient safety, or you simply want to get your pick of vacation spots, knowing how to flex your influence muscles is essential.
P.S. Need strategies to have more influence at work? Schedule your consult today!
Warning: You May Be Causing People to Resist Your Ideas
As a physician, you need to have influence to solve the challenges your patients and organizations face. Unfortunately, right now you may be unknowingly causing people to resist you and your message. There are five common obstacles for women of influence that can limit their ability to speak confidently, be heard and gain agreement from others.
Fear of Appearing Overly-Ambitious
We falsely believe that if we go after what we want, we will appear to others as pushy, self-serving or overly aggressive. Then people will avoid us and we will never get what we want.
Antidote: Women of influence need to build rapport through respect with active listening, welcoming others viewpoints and having a cooperative attitude. Come across as sincere and keep your focus on the issue you are advocating for.
Many Women of Influence May Have a Fear of Rejection
If our fear of being laughed at, criticized or rejected is greater then our belief or cause, it will be difficult to effectively influence others.
Antidote: Take the time to get to know others by establishing friendly relationships. Share something of yourself, and ask questions about them to establish a stronger bond and improve their desire to listen.
Thinking Too Much About Past Missteps
We all have had time in the past when we were unable to get our way or things did not turn out as planned. So we fear we will meet with the same outcome if we try again.
Antidote: Stay in the present moment by exhibiting good listening, eye contact, and open body posture. Just do it!
Thinking Your Perspective Is Not Important
The thinking goes like this: Who are you to think you can get someone to do this? This negative self-talk is sure to stop you in your tracks.
Antidote: See yourself as credible. Your perspective is unique to you and it matters. Never forget this truth.
Which of these obstacles are you most susceptible to? Start with the one that seems the most challenging. No need to do this alone- your friend has obstacles, too.
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As a female physician, you have been required to rely on the strength of your IQ. Making a diagnosis, doing calculations and delivering a convincing argument all require use of IQ. And when you want to lead a team or influence others to follow your lead, another kind of intelligence is needed- emotional intelligence. That is can be a problem, because as a physician, mostly your IQ intelligence has been valued. But, the key to effective leadership relies on emotional intelligence.
The impact of emotional intelligence, which many women are naturally good at, may already be the source of your success and you aren’t even aware of it. This week I was speaking to Dr. Elaine who had recently completed an interim role as Medial Director. Her department was preparing for a quality survey. Long hours, and even weekends, would be required to catch up on the backlog of charts. She worked right along side the staff and even brought in pizza to make those long evenings a little more enjoyable. When the office clerk was having a problem with her child, Dr. Elaine sent her home to take care of the situation. The stressed clerk expressed her appreciation with a look of gratitude.
Dr. Elaine told me that this interim position had been the most rewarding work she had done in a long time. The staff had pulled together as a team, and together they had accomplished an unbelievable amount of work. When the acting Medical Director returned from leave he asked her, “ What did you do to get such amazing results?” She couldn’t explain the source of her success. She was asking me as a coach to help her understand what she had done so she could do it again!
What made the difference? Emotional intelligence explains why despite equal intelligence, training, or experience, some people succeed while don’t. In fact, 90% of the difference between outstanding and average leaders is linked to EQ. Dr. Elaine paid attention to the personal needs and perspective of her team. Her behavior demonstrated that she cared about each person as an individual. Attending to the emotional needs of the team created the commitment, engagement and collaboration needed to get the job done.
The Majority of Competencies Needed for Successful Leadership are EQ in Nature.
Typically, we want to share what we know so others trust our expertise. You need to flip your focus from IQ to EQ if you want others to follow you as a leader. Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
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Women in medicine sometimes ask, “Why do I need a women physician group? I see myself as a physician, not a female physician.” Nevertheless, women in the healthcare industry are seeking and creating local groups and national female physician networks. Women may engage in separate groups of only women, not to exclude male colleagues, but to involve more women. Female physicians say they want their own networks for the following reasons:
Other female physicians understand the challenges you encounter. Professional societies of women provide the comfort of understanding necessary to have grit in the face of adversity.
What do you do when doing a good job does not get you the recognition you deserve? Women want to hear what other women leaders are experiencing and their thoughts about professional development strategies.
Often women participate actively in one-on-one conversations or in all female groups, but hold back in mixed groups. Female communication styles (e.g., modest) are different than male styles (e.g., boastful), and reducing differences in styles equalizes power.
What is the possible impact of a lateral move or of job sharing? When there is no roadmap, you need someone you can speak to about the potential benefits and pitfalls of a decision.
Women want to expand the narrow definitions of leadership. Openly discussing how your leadership style may be different than those in power is essential to finding a personal leadership voice.
Women are looking for mentors, as well as mentoring others. Virtual and on-site female physician networks help make those connections.
Women are changing the face of medicine. The values, style, and perspective of women in medical practice frequently are different than those of their male colleagues. In the words of visionary psychiatrist, Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., “When a critical number of people change how they think and behave, the culture will also, and a new era begins.”
Women’s networks help women physicians value and enrich what they offer medicine, so their diversity can be woven into and strengthen the fabric of healthcare.
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I often hear the lament, “How do I get seen?” in my work with women physicians. You need a leadership brand to land appropriate projects and grow your career in meaningful ways. A brand speaks to more than your skills and expertise. And a brand is a promise about what you plan to do and whom you promise to be while you’re doing it!
My client, Dr. Anna (pseudonym, but true situation), was excited about her role as Medical Director at a regional insurance company. As her long-term goal was to be a Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anna’s current position should have provided the requisite experience. However, she wasn’t getting opportunities to demonstrate the value she could bring to her organization. Therefore, to ensure Dr. Anna was consistently showing her value as a leader, together we created her personal leadership brand.
Steps to a Leadership Brand
1. What results do you want or need to deliver to your organization?
This took some digging for Dr. Anna. Her specific goals initially were unclear.
2. What do you want to be known for? Your brand is a powerful way to be true to your values and strengths. Be sure to balance strengths that come naturally to you with new strengths you will need to develop to be effective in your role.
Dr. Anna wanted to be known as a direct communicator, who was focused on the bottom line, while showing deep respect and appreciation for the healthcare providers and their patient population. Therefore, we needed to work on strategies to ensure Dr. Anna’s heartfelt appreciation was communicated to the providers.
3) Make it real. Can you live up to the qualities you espouse? If you say you want to be seen as appreciating others, are you? Get feedback about how you are doing.
Whether you are aware of it or not, you have a brand. It’s better to be intentional about what you are known for and live up to it. Then, when people think about you, your brand and talents will come to mind for the next interesting assignment or an upcoming promotion.
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