Tips for Aspiring Executive leaders
We have had the pleasure of speaking with many executive leaders for our podcasts, video interviews and various other articles. Given the vast experience they have, we ask each of them what their “Tips for Aspiring Executive Leaders” are. In this series we speak with Mr Andrew Kinkade General Manager Residential Care at Catholic Healthcare; Mr Alan Kinkade, former CEO of Epworth Healthcare; Ms Michelle Wearing-Smith, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Mr Steve Rubic, National CEO of Healthscope; and Dr Ged Foley, CEO of Sonic Clinical Services.
We also asked Ccentric Group Managing Director, Wayne Bruce, for his advice to aspiring leaders:
My best advice for anyone aspiring to better their career is to ensure you are doing something you enjoy and are passionate about. If you’re not, it might be time to consider a change. Like many people, I “fell” into executive search, it was not a planned career move. However, on entering the industry, I was fortunate enough to have found what I consider my calling or vocation. This is especially so given that Ccentric’s focus is on the healthcare sector – every placement we make has an impact on people’s lives and so we can be proud that we make our own small but important contribution to the betterment of the community through what we do every day.
Mr Andrew Kinkade, General Manager Residential Care, Catholic Healthcare
First and foremost, the sector needs to attract and develop more leaders – not just because of the demographic trends, but also because of the increasing complexity of operations. The sector increasingly has elements of subacute hospital care, hotel & hospitality dynamics and technology. So as well as growing our own, we have been fortunate to attract people from other sectors that challenge ways of doing things and bring new perspectives. My advice to aspiring leaders curious about the sector is to see the opportunity – it’s an exciting sector and an excellent training ground for general management. You’re dealing with people, a branch network and a sector that will undergo immense change over the next 5 to 10 years. So the opportunity to learn, grow and have an impact is outstanding.
Mr Alan Kinkade, former CEO, Epworth Healthcare
I think it’s important to get exposure to how different managers and different systems operate. There’s no right answer in many cases in health and so the more exposure and experience that you get to different systems, different people; I think that’s where you can actually mentor people and build upon them.
I think relationships are always important and in mentoring anyone I think they need to develop their listening skills. They need to listen often and engage people before acting and if they’re going to make difficult or hard decisions they’re going to try and bring the organisation’s stakeholders with them.
Ms Michelle Wearing-Smith, Head of Marketing and Communications, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Play to your strengths. Work on developing other areas of strength. A human-first approach to inspire the best of people. Keep your knowledge and skills relevant. Learn to work under great leaders and not so great ones. The most powerful lessons in leadership I have learnt were from working with the most challenging of leaders.
Mr Steve Rubic, National CEO, Healthscope
I would say to them they need to learn how to work in ambiguity. Things are changing in healthcare on a regular basis. Some things stay the same, but there is lots of change and I find on occasions managers who struggle in ambiguity they do it tough. So, I would say to potential leaders coming through, make sure you can cope with ambiguity, make sure that you understand in whatever organisation you’re part of that it is trying to differentiate itself, whether that be quality differentiator, whether it be a research differentiator whatever those differentiators are that they get to understand that, and they can help the organisation follow through on that differentiation.
Dr Ged Foley, CEO, Sonic Clinical Services
I think about what leadership means. Leadership is not about authority, it’s not even necessarily about management abilities. It’s about being able to see the big picture and act in the best interests of patients and clinicians. Sometimes it’s difficult to juggle that because there are competing priorities. So, leadership is really about thinking about who you represent. I’m kind of the school of thought that to lead is to serve. You’ve got to think about who you represent as a leader and what sort of influence that you can have on the industry and how you can act in the interests of the people who work for and with you. I think any organization is only as good as the people who work within the organisation, and I believe that’s a really important thing to think about.
I think about doctors and patients, but I also think first and foremost about the people who work within the organization what it’s like for them to work in our organization, what they feel about it, and how you make that a positive experience.
Other tips for aspiring leaders:
- When opportunity presents itself, grasp it with both hands. Don’t hold yourself back, be considered but also be brave in pursuing interesting options to develop yourself and broaden your experience, skill set and competencies.
- Most importantly, ensure that you get on with people – of all types and at all levels. The single most important determinant of someone’s future success is the degree to which they are “likable” and trusted and respected by others. Be proud of your successes but also display an appropriate degree of humility and don’t be overly boastful – if you do, people will soon bring you back to earth with a thump.
- Plan your career into the future, your dream job might take 2, 3 or 4 moves to get to, requiring you to move into different companies and/or job roles to acquire the experience and skills needed for whatever that dream is.