Article written by Gene Mage, Executive Director of Belmont's Center for Executive Education
From time to time I'm asked by organizations to help them make selection decisions for key executive positions. I approach this task in a pretty systematic way, conducting a series of assessments and interviews designed to discover which candidate has the best "fit" of competencies, personality traits, motivations and key experiences that best equips them for the role. To be honest, that approach is not unique in the consulting world, and I would say that any good consultant in the assessment field would do these things. However, I do have a particular angle through which I view the data that I believe makes a huge difference. This is my "insider" secret, and I'm going to share it with you now.
I ask three general questions: "What kind of person are you?", "What kind of leader are you?", and "What kind of learner are you?" That third question almost always tells me which candidate is truly outstanding, versus who is just adequate. Why? Well according to several major studies conducted by researchers such as Lombardo, Eichinger, and McCall, it's not easy to distinguish the best from the rest. For example, at senior levels everyone is smart, everyone knows their industry, everyone knows how to manage people and get results, and everyone has a surprisingly similar set of experiences. What sets them apart is that some people are extremely good at learning from those experiences and accruing the situational judgment, character, and maturity available from those experiences for their future. In other words, they are lifelong learners. And they don't just talk about it or agree that "learning is good," but they do things differently every day that make a difference. Here are three things that leadership learners do differently, and you can begin to apply in your own life:
1. They regularly stop and reflect. Most people run from task to task and challenge to challenge without ever stopping to reflect on what just happened, to capture the learning. In the literature, we call this "reflective practice," and it's a form of mindfulness and self-awareness the best leaders bring into every situation. They do after-action reviews, keep notes in a journal, and talk things through with others to squeeze every drop of learning available from real workplace experiences. They are humble, and realize that what they are going through now is not for validating their readiness, but for equipping them to be ready for what's next. They never arrive, but are always getting better.
2. They are discerning. There are two errors leaders make when learning from experience. Type one error is that they fail to apply previous lessons of experience to new situations. Type two error is that they try to apply previous lessons of experience to new situations -- without stopping to evaluate what's different about the new situation. The best candidates apply sophisticated situational judgment, not just recognizing what's familiar in a new challenge, but asking themselves tough questions about how the new situation is different. Then they can apply their experience without forcing it into a new environment like a blunt object.
3. They are intentional. Lifelong learners make written plans. They do not sit around and wait for learning and growth to happen "organically." Sure, you will have the spontaneous opportunities for growth (also known as unpleasant surprises) from time to time. However, to really progress, you need to identify learning goals and actions, and update those on a yearly basis at least. When setting learning goals, consider two "lenses." First, get some feedback on your own strengths and weaknesses, and what you personally need to improve upon to achieve your personal goals for career advancement. Second, ask your organization what it needs. Then develop the skills and abilities that will help you achieve organizational goals. By tying your development plan to organizational needs, you are no longer a self-centered careerist, but a high-potential candidate for future leadership. Why? Because you're not just developing for your own needs, but to be better equipped to help the organization achieve its mission. And believe me, every organization is looking for people who are mission-focused and making themselves ready for the future.
What about you? Do you regularly stop and reflect? Do you assess how and when to apply the lessons of experience? Do you have a written development plan? We at the Center for Executive Education are here to help you with any of these goals. If you want to begin reflecting on your own goals, you might enjoy our new interactive learning journal on our website, www.belmontleadership.com, that prompts you with challenging questions for reflection and provides a secure journal for you to keep notes on your lessons of experience. If you do these things, I'm confident that when you are being assessed someday (hopefully not by me) you will definitely distinguish yourself as a lifelong learner, and as the exceptional candidate for your dream leadership job.
While Music City has always hung its wide-brimmed hat on country music, a new industry has invaded Nashville in the last few decades, booming louder than a sonorous Broadway bass.
The healthcare industry is Nashville's largest and fastest-growing sector, employing more than 110,000 Middle Tennessee residents, according to the Nashville Health Care Council. The Council reports that more than 250 healthcare companies call Nashville home.
This August, the Massey Graduate School of Business decided to address the needs of this steadily growing segment with a specialized Healthcare MBA. Massey announced the program last spring and ambitiously set out to begin classes this past fall. Eight students enrolled in the initial class; 25 slots are planned for next fall.
"Based on what we felt like was a strength of the faculty and resources within our MBA program, in addition to the obvious fit with the Nashville marketplace, this is something that we have wanted to offer for quite some time," said Massey Associate Dean Joe Alexander.
The program, which is separate from the Massey MBA healthcare track, has a 21-course cohort setup. New students begin each fall and are scheduled to complete the program in two years. A study abroad requirement is built in to the curriculum, just as it is with other Massey graduate programs.
The Healthcare MBA features a revolutionary curriculum modeled after DNA -- a double-helix structure that pairs interrelated strands of coursework related to business and healthcare.
"In using the metaphor of a DNA double-helix, we were seeking to communicate how those two strands essentially represent the two curricular dimensions of business administration and healthcare administration," Alexander said. "Not only are the two subjects intertwined as a student completes the degree, but there are sequential linkages between courses on the MBA side and those on the healthcare administration side."
Alexander cited the cohort's current class schedule as a good example of the structure.
"One is a course that looks at the international business side of healthcare, while the second is an examination of how to effectively deliver patient-centered healthcare and the clinical systems that support that delivery," Alexander said. "Some of these course pairs will actually utilize a single project with an area-based healthcare company that integrates the subject matter across a pair of courses like this."
The program has a flexible target demographic: Healthcare professionals with at least three or four years of experience in the industry.
"Age isn’t really as important in this case as meeting the requirement of having some legitimate healthcare experience," Alexander said, "so that students can better relate to the material and be equipped to engage with their peers in problem-solving exercises."
Belmont is not the only Nashville university to offer an MBA program related to healthcare; however, Alexander is quick to point out two differences between the degrees offered by Massey and Vanderbilt. First, Belmont's program is designed for students with full-time jobs, while Vanderbilt's class schedule has a full-time setup.
"Our students are able to continue working full-time while they are enrolled in our program, so the opportunity costs are much lower, and the payback a much shorter window, especially given we are roughly half the price of their program," Alexander said.
The second difference: Belmont's focus is on the applied side of healthcare, while Vanderbilt's is rooted in theory. The practical approach is intended to assist students at the office.
"Given our students are continuing their employment while enrolled, there tends to be a natural 'learn it tonight, apply it tomorrow' cycle as individuals move through the program," Alexander said.
How can Massey students and alumni spread the word about the Healthcare MBA? Simple. By telling their friends.
"If you have a friend or colleague who is employed in the healthcare industry and is looking to advance their careers to a significantly higher level of leadership and management in that field, this is a great opportunity to take those next steps," Alexander said.
"We are designing this to be the largest healthcare MBA program, but rather the best such program for working professionals in the healthcare industry."
Article written by Gene Mage, Executive Director of Belmont's Center for Executive Education
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It’s a full-contact sport that demands full physical, mental, emotional and spiritual engagement to do well. That’s why it is not for everybody and should never be entered into lightly.
In our own strength, none of us are really equipped to handle the impossibly high standards set for us as leaders. Committed leaders with the skills and temperament to lead can, however, thrive if they are not leaning too hard on their own abilities.
Put another way, every excellent leader has an excellent support network. That support structure helps him or her thrive physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s that network of relationships that comes around the leader away from the workplace to offer support, encouragement and guidance so that the leader can show up in the workplace in a way that’s helpful.
If you are dependent on your work environment for support, you are really co-dependent and cannot function with integrity. For example, if you are depending on the people around you at work to shore you up emotionally, heaven forbid you ever have to make an unpopular decision. You just cannot allow your emotional temperature to be set by the people around you at work. As author Seth Godin and others have advised, “Be a thermostat, not a thermometer.” But to be a thermostat, that is, one who sets the emotional temperature rather than one who just picks up the tone of others, you have to be getting support outside the work environment.
So who’s in your support network? Are you surrounded by a small group of people with integrity who you can vent to, confess to and work things out with, or do you come home as the proverbial dump-truck and unload your workplace conflicts onto your significant other or unsuspecting social circle? Have you got successful role-models outside your organization who can mentor you and challenge you and encourage you, so you can bring something great to your workplace on Monday?
Without a support network, you are a really risky proposition. Leaders without strong people around them to hold them accountable begin to believe their own press releases. Solo flyers buy into the little voice of their own ego that says, “You’re the smartest one in the room…don’t listen to those little people.” Once you become a god unto yourself, without outside accountability, you are an ethical time bomb just waiting for the right temptation to draw you into those murky shades of grey, when you sacrifice your character on the altar of “winning.”
Want to do one thing this week that will revolutionize your world? Shore up your support network. Find 3 people you really trust who will be your personal “master-mind” group. Get together and be open and honest, give each other permission to tell the truth, and love each other unconditionally because heaven knows you’re not going to get that in the workplace, nor should you.
One of my favorite quotes about leadership and learning is from Dr. Howard Hendricks, who says, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” Get fed outside of work so you’ve got something to give to others.
A total of thirty-two Massey graduate students are scheduled for recognition at our next hooding ceremony on December 17, at 6:30 p.m. in Neely Dining Hall (reception set for 6:00 p.m.). All international trips are now completed for 2009, and the remaining list of graduating student to-dos includes an MBA Major Field Test in Business for our MBA students on Saturday, December 5, and completion of any remaining 5-week classes for all students enrolled this session.
This semester, 21 of our graduating students are set to finish their MBA degrees, while the other 11 students will complete their MACC degrees. Isaac Lewis (MACC/PMBA) and Chris Roberge (PMBA) will be delivering this semester's "remarks from the graduating class."
(Pictured at right: August 2009 Class)
The Massey School is once again partnering with Healthcare Performance Partners (HPP), and The Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI) to deliver a Lean Healthcare Certificate Program. This Certificate Program is designed for leaders who desire to understand the tools and knowledge necessary to drive Lean Healthcare throughout their entire organization. The program will be taught in Belmont University's state-of-the-art Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing, February 23-27.
This intense one-week Lean Healthcare Certificate Program will give participants a hands-on, learn-by-doing experience applying Lean Philosophies and Tools in a healthcare environment. The training, exercise and simulations build the foundation throughout the week for the participants to apply them in a Mini-Kaizen Event Lab Exercise and develop a roadmap for their organization. This life-like healthcare experience using real healthcare examples is taught and facilitated by Lean Practitioners, Leaders and Coaches each with multiple years of successfully applying Lean in healthcare organizations. This will be the second such lean healthcare course delivered at Belmont. The first back in November 2008 drew participants from across the U.S. and a number of foreign countries.
For more information on the lean healthcare program, go to: http://www.buleancourse.com/
Massey alum Annie Whiting has recently relocated to Charlotte, NC with the Wood Group, and was anxious to try to connect with other Massey Alums in the area. Annie had attended some of the Networking @ Noon gatherings here in Nashville and thought that would be a great vehicle to meet people in Charlotte. Other Massey alums agreeing to join Annie in pulling together a Massey Charlotte group are Heather and Philip Goodrum '96, and Bethany Frye '88. Valerie Wilhite Massey '01 is making the move to Charlotte with Lowe's Home Improvement and will link in with the group as well.
Fran Salamon Cook, Massey School '92, has informed us that she has had several changes in her life since we were last in touch. She has finished her DBA and moved from the corporate world to the academic world as Assistant Professor at Montreat College in Charlotte, North Carolina. Along the way, Fran has married and blended a family which now includes her two daughters and now two step-sons. Congratulations Fran and welcome to the world of Wife/Mommy/College Professor. Fran will be helping organize this Massey group in Charlotte as well.
We also heard from Jim H. Thompson, Massey School '98, who relocated to Charlotte two years ago with Bank of America in Compliance Risk Management. Jim says Charlotte is very "Nashville-like" and he's very happy there.
Lori and Forrest Reeves, who both graduated in 2003, welcomed Kylie Elizabeth on July 3, 2006. Kylie was 9 lbs and 20 inches
Special thanks go to the following Massey Alumni who spoke at recent Information and Orientation Sessions (February-November 2006):
Melody Alford, Bill Baker, Katherine Beakes, Stuart Brown, Aaron Chambers, John Clemence, Lucy Garrabrants, Angela Gentry, Jim Greene, Dan Groover, Stacey Hardison, Carrie Hininger, Damon Hininger, Amber Humphrey, Jared Humphrey, Cate Loes, Jared Monger, Krista Ramsey, Robert Riggar, Mike Ryckeley, Kelly Sanford, Dimeta Smith, Jim Stefansic, Jason Truss, Shannon Underberg
Lara Lee Whitehead (Massey School '99) died tragically August 29 in a car accident in Smyrna, TN where she and her husband, Barry Whitehead (Massey 1995) lived with their two daughters Carson, 3 and Dallas, 1. Lara Lee was employed by Aladdin Temp-Rite in Hendersonville as a Product Engineer and was originally from Decatur, Alabama. A celebration of her life was held Friday, September 1 at the First Baptist Church in Smyrna.
Teresa Kuharsky, Massey ‘02 has been named assistant vice president of acquisitions and development at Symbion Healthcare in Nashville.
Dr. Mike Stabile, Massey '99. In addition to a busy anesthesiology practice, Mike continues to work with Operation Smile on an international basis, scouting new third world locations for doctors to change the lives of children through surgery.
Angelo Bruno, Massey '00, has been named vice president, treasurer and financial planning at BMI.
Special thanks go to Carrie Hininger, Katherine Beakes, Jim Stefansic, and Dimeta Smith for contributing to the recent Massey Information Session.
Melissa and Jim Greene, who both graduated in 2004, had their son on December 15, 2005. James Alexander “Lex” Greene was 8lbs. 3oz. and 20.5 inches long. Mother and baby are both doing well.
After obtaining a law degree from Nashville School of Law in 1998, Steve Holzapfel (MBA 1992) closed his 25 year old Holzapfel Pool Company and opened a private law practice. He was appointed Judicial Commissioner (Night Court Judge) in 2004. Steve recently announced that he is running for General Sessions Judge. The Massey School wishes him the best in his campaign!