The Confidence to Communicate
I remember walking into a CEO’s office and realizing that considering age, gender and race, I was the only remotely diverse individual within a five-mile radius. I felt different and intimidated. But what I learned after a successful interaction was to never let fear hinder you from taking advantage of an opportunity.
If you feel a similar sense of dread when you think about speaking to a senior leader, know this: your diversity brings a valuable perspective to senior leaders that can be just as helpful to them as their perspective is to you. Identifying mentors and building relationships with a network of healthcare leaders will be essential to your continued success, and you should establish regular interactions with them to cultivate your communication and leadership skills.
- When speaking with senior leaders, have a clear intention and plan for your interaction.
- Be inquisitive, prepare questions for your meeting and be an attentive listener.
- Get to know them personally. Scan their office upon entering–they will often display mementos of their proudest moments and gladly share their stories.
- Be direct and tactful when asking them to play a meaningful role in your journey to becoming a leader.
- Most importantly, thank them for their time during and after the meeting.
- If you are hoping to gain a mentor after this interaction, ask if they would be willing to meet with you on a biweekly or monthly basis. This could be to discuss a project you are working on, to mentor you on a certain skill-set, or to discuss your career goals and progress. Remember that consistency and authenticity is key to maintaining a successful relationship.
- Run-ins with senior leaders may cause you to feel off-guard, to stumble or freeze-up. Practice a plan for the casual hallway run-ins, even if this is just practicing in the mirror of how to greet a senior leader in passing.
- Authenticity and genuine passion are difficult to replicate. They are easily detected and appreciated by senior leaders, who will be more willing to communicate with you again if you have these traits.