Women make up 70 percent of the healthcare workforce but only hold 25 percent of leadership roles in healthcare, according to the World Health Organization. I'm exceptionally proud that our senior leadership team at UVA Health and our cabinet at the Medical Center defy this statistic.
As a female executive, I see it as my duty and honor to mentor the next generation of diverse healthcare leaders. Take our Administrative Fellowship Program, of which I serve as preceptor and executive sponsor. We consistently hear from potential fellows who want to be mentored by a female leader. And it's not just women who say that; men do as well. This affirms why it's best to have a diverse set of mentors in your life to become the best leader you can be.
So, to support career development needs, I encourage all of us to build a diverse "personal cabinet of advisors" to check in with and learn from as we grow. While I believe this is particularly important for developing strong female leaders, anyone can benefit from this support model.
Who should be in your cabinet?
Be open to the people who come into your life and work alongside you. Any one of them could one day help you on your journey. The ideal people should help you navigate all areas of your life, personal and professional. Your advisors will change over time. Some of them will move longitudinally with you, and some will only be there for a short amount of time. Some may eventually become your manager or lead you to a new opportunity — and then you'll have a new, deeper relationship with them.
How should you go about forming your cabinet?
Don't worry about formalizing a strict mentor-mentee relationship right away. Keep it simple and just have a conversation. Some of the best advisors in my life started over just a cup of coffee and then, over time, became a critical sounding board for me. For example, there's a person that I text every single day about work and life. That relationship started in a very informal way when I first came to UVA Health. This person used to work here, so they understand our culture well and some of what my work life is like. Ultimately, though, it’s been helpful for me to have a diverse set of advisors with different perspectives. This is critical in helping you become a more effective, well-rounded leader.
Take care and be well!