Ensuring smooth leadership transitions

Transitions of leadership are going on all the time in our organizations: a new CEO, a new VP, or new management at another level; it is change.

As I’ve written about, I just completed such a transition. I have served as an interim CIO for 8 plus canstockphoto33589643months. The agreement for the engagement was that I’d stay through the successful transition to the new CIO. We envisioned a 30 day overlap.

As the start date for the new CIO approached, 30 days seemed very long. Wouldn’t the new CIO want to get in and get started without me around? But as she and I started planning that time, 30 days seemed reasonable for all that we needed to do. When it came time to start the transition, there was so much else going on each day we found it hard to find the time to focus on the transition work. In the end, we both agreed 30 days was the right amount of time and extremely helpful to her.

But a 30-day overlap and transition period can be a luxury. Organizations often go through leadership transitions with far less time or even no time for the old and new leaders to work together. When I took the interim engagement, I had an hour conversation with the previous CIO on his second to last day; that was it. Continue reading

Forward together

Like many, I am surprised and disappointed at the outcome of the presidential election. From some of my previous posts the past few years, there’s probably no question about my political leanings. canstockphoto10854745

A new message of “forward together” is needed now more than ever. Only half of all eligible voters voted on Tuesday. Half of them voted for Donald Trump and half for Hillary Clinton. She got more popular votes. But that means only one fourth of the country elected our next president. He will need to be a president for all of us.

A dark cloud has hung over us during an incredibly divisive and bitter campaign with often hateful language and bullying behaviors. We may have been afraid to talk to co-workers or neighbors or family members in fear they may support the other candidate and we did not want to have to debate with them. People on both sides felt this way.

Hillary Clinton’s speech to her staff on Wednesday had many important and inspiring messages as we move forward as a country. I encourage you to find the speech online to gain some perspective and to renew your hope for the future.

I watched her speech with my husband and the general contractor on our outside house project. He and his crew have been working here for several weeks on a major redo project – new patio, landscape and fence. They are a nice group of guys and we chat each day. But we consciously never brought up the election.

The general contractor needed to talk to us about a change order so came into the house Wednesday morning. He saw we were not in a good mood and asked who we had supported. He told us he voted for Trump. Bottom line, he thought a change was needed but admitted that he couldn’t defend a lot of what Trump said on the campaign trail. We debated a bit but it was civil.

He said he wanted to see Hillary’s speech when it came on. I went outside and got him when it was time. He sat in our living room with one of our dogs on his lap and watched. I sat behind him in the kitchen with tears. He thanked us for letting him come in and watch and said she made some great points. I told him that I did it with a big heart. Continue reading

Powerful women and their path to success

My first professional event since moving back to New England is the evening of Monday, November 7th. Boston Health 2.0 is a chapter of the national Health 2.0 organization. They hold monthly meetings to canstockphoto993163promote, showcase and catalyze new technologies in healthcare. The November event is a panel titled “The Power Women of Health IT: Path to Success”.

All powerful women have advice to give others and stories about obstacles they’ve overcome. This group of women panelists is no different and I’m excited to be part of it. Helen Figge, Senior Vice President, Global Strategies and Development, LumiraDx, USA, Inc., Cara Babachicos, Corporate Director/CIO, Community Hospitals, Partners Healthcare, and I were all honored to be named earlier this year to the “Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT” by Health Data Management. We look forward to sharing our perspectives and stories.

The panel will cover advice on entrepreneurship for women, how women can influence the health IT industry, differing perceptions of competency in men and women, importance of mentorship, how men can be more supportive of professional women, and obstacles we’ve overcome in our own paths to success.

This should be a great discussion with a lot of insight and advice. But which obstacle should I comment on? Looking back to my early days in management, unfortunately there are many stories to share.

There was the male colleague who had it out for me during a five-year period when I was the only woman on the IT leadership team (it was the 80’s). One of the things he did early on was to spread a rumor that I was only in management because I was related to a board member with the same last name. It was so not true; I didn’t even know the board member. Continue reading

New leader? You’re not alone

Are you in your first CIO position?  Have you just been promoted by executives at your organization who see what you are capable of? Or have you been tapped by another organization to step into yourcanstockphoto12535181 first ever CIO role? Or maybe find yourself serving as the internal interim CIO during the search for a permanent CIO.

In any of these scenarios you may wonder where to turn for help and advice. Every day there will be situations that you do not feel fully prepared for.

If you’re fortunate, you have already attended the CHIME CIO Boot Camp. It’s a three-and-a-half-day immersion into the breadth of what a CIO needs to know taught by experienced CIOs. Over 1,400 CIOs and future CIOs have graduated from the program over the past 13 years. If you haven’t yet attended, you should consider it.

If your organization has memberships with health care focused services such as Advisory Board, or broader research services like Gartner, be sure to take advantage of those resources. And make them available to your entire IT leadership team.

Be a sponge. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find people who are ahead of you and can share their experience. Continue reading

Shaping young minds and tomorrow’s leaders

I was running late in wrapping up a meeting before my next one. I was meeting with a young IT staff member whose manager had encouraged him to get time on my calendar for career advice. We had acanstockphoto14947189 great half hour chat about his future goals. I introduced him to the next person patiently waiting to meet with me – the manager for telehealth – a young man who was relatively new to his position. I figured they should know each other.

The telehealth manager walked into my office after the intro and said “So you’re shaping young minds”. “Absolutely!” I replied.

I have adult children and so I realize how valuable this type of access and advice can be. I saw some of the challenges my daughters faced when they graduated from college and started to navigate and grow their careers. I asked myself, “why not be available to their generation?” After all, each of us can probably remember someone who helped us early in our careers. So I concluded it was time for me to give back; I made a commitment to help develop the next generation of leaders.

Even though I have had a full schedule as a CIO, I have been willing to take short calls and meetings with anyone who wants to talk about their career and get advice from me. They may be staff members in my IT department or in other departments. They may be students who work in my organization and need to interview the CIO for a class assignment. Or they may be someone to whom a colleague has suggested that I’d be a good person to meet. Many such referrals are for young women who want to learn from me as a female executive in IT. There aren’t that many of us yet in health IT but the numbers are definitely going in the right direction.  Continue reading

Learning from leaders

It’s rare that a CIO gets to watch another CIO at work. Yes, we all network regularly at CHIME and other conferences. We learn from each other on topical webinars. And we pick each other’s brains on canstockphoto13851442phone calls about something that is new for us and our organization.

But to see someone working day to day with the executives, their peers and their own leadership team is different: how they set expectations and deliver tough messages; how they make commitments with appropriate caveats; how they answer questions if they don’t have enough information yet.

I’ve been fortunate to watch our new CIO, Joy Grosser, at University Hospitals, at work. I’ve stepped back since she became CIO and serve as an advisor to her during the transition. We look for pockets of time to do transition and turnover.

During these few weeks of transition, we’ve had some production issues and vendor challenges. We are developing next year’s budget. We are finalizing a plan for new hospital integration with the help of a consulting firm. These are big initiatives to walk into, to learn quickly what you need to know, and to lead with authority and confidence.

But that’s what leaders do. They listen and learn. They share their values and vision. They don’t pretend to know or have all the answers. They rely on their team to keep them informed and to solve problems. And at the end of the day they own it. Continue reading

Manterrupting

How can I not comment on the most watched Presidential debate ever? There were 84 million people watching the debate. It was up against Monday night football and in my temporary town, thecanstockphoto10414040 Cleveland Indians were clinching the American Central championship.

For women who have dealt with blatant and subtle sexism throughout their lives and careers, it was the ultimate show.

As my twitter feed and Facebook filled with commentary Monday night and all day Tuesday, the gender politics came into focus.

 “Sexism is a man screaming he has a better temperament than a woman who has been patiently waiting to speak after being interrupted 10 times.” A tweet from @nickpraynerr shared by Hostile Politics

“Finally the whole country will watch as a woman stands politely listening to a loud man’s bad ideas about the field she spent her life in.” A tweet from Alexandra petri @petridishes shared by Being Liberal

“And now, a completely unprepared man will interrupt a highly prepared woman, 51 times, only to prove he actually has very little to say!” Ezra Klein sharing a video clip from Vox to prove it. Continue reading

Saying goodbye

“Hi short timer”, “So you’re winding down”, “What’s next?” These are just some of the comments and questions I am getting from people I run into at work these days. Some add congratulations and that it will becanstockphoto27502107 nice for me to see my grandkids more.

 If you’ve kept up on my recent posts, you know that I’m in the final weeks of my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals in Cleveland. The transition to the new permanent CIO started this week.

I only once left a job and organization without knowing what was next. I followed my newly ordained minister husband to a church in central Massachusetts 17 years ago. We moved from Dallas and I went into the job search and was hired as the CIO at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Now, I don’t have a firm “what’s next” beyond a much needed break, a couple of coaching engagements, and a number of leads for more interim work. And that’s OK. The idea of this next chapter I started in January was to have more flexibility and work less than full time over the course of the year. As I’ve encouraged others in the past, I am “open to the possibilities”.

In my last two CIO positions, the turnover and transition were to internal interims. I needed to provide key information they needed while recognizing that they already knew the organizations and its history. Here in Cleveland, I’m leaving an interim position after 8 months and onboarding a CIO from outside the organization. Continue reading

Investing in you, the value of a coach

I was fortunate to work with an excellent executive coach several years ago. He helped me gain new insight into who I am and how I lead. I am a much better leader as a result of our year-long work together. canstockphoto32422551And I periodically reconnect with him now to bounce around ideas when going through major transitions.

Deciding to work with a coach can be unsettling.

I told myself, “sure there are things on my performance evaluation I could work on but mostly I’m fine and don’t need any help; after all no one is perfect”.

And I also told myself, “ok, I admit I could use some help but how much do I really have to expose and what will people think if they know I’m using a coach”.

So yes, I had those kinds of thoughts when I started and expect you might as well.

But my coach put me at ease. He got to know me and started helping me look critically at my leadership style and areas I needed to improve. He was not there to judge me or make me feel inadequate. He took me where I was at.

A good coach doesn’t have all the answers but knows how to ask the right questions. Continue reading

What to expect from an interim CIO

I am now networking for my next opportunities and need to update my resume. This week someone offered to make an introduction for me and asked me to send a current one. So I did a quick pass and canstockphoto11333368added a section for my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals.

I went right to my CIO focus areas that I had documented back in week 5. I added a few more focus areas a month ago, in response to some new needs.  Good news; with the help of my IT leadership team I either finished or made great progress on all of them.

Interim CIOs can just keep the seat warm and make sure things are running smoothly. Or they can be change agents who shake things up. Or they may help set a new strategy and direction for the permanent CIO to execute.

Basically, University Hospitals wanted an experienced CIO with a fresh perspective to run IT while helping to find the next permanent CIO. The work has been a combination of operations and consulting. Operations means a lot of meetings, long days and plenty of issues. Consulting means there’s an opportunity to look at things differently and make incremental improvements. Continue reading