Updated: Feb 7
Could you share a bit about who you are, what you do, and what prompted you to bring in coaching at this point in your career?
Sure. So my name's Elizabeth. I am in my mid 40s and I have really focused the majority of my life on medical education and then the care of patients. Over the past three to four years was promoted within the Department of Surgery to take on leadership roles that have been very successful, have had some very successful projects and was invited to participate in a leadership course. I really had no intention of being part of a coaching program, but this was part of the leadership course. So Julian and I found each other, and we've started our coaching journey. It’s been amazing over the past couple of months.
Were there any big challenges you were facing or what did life/business look like before teaming up together?
I think when we started coaching, I was in a space where I was very good at working with peers and direct reports. What I wanted to work on was really the management of reporting up and leading up, as they say, and really moving into that space of working with higher level leadership, more senior and visible project within the institution, while still maintaining visibility with my ongoing staff and everyday life, if you will. So that was a real... that was the space that I entered into was that I really needed help navigating how to lead up and really assume these responsibilities within an institution that I was a new face within these leadership areas.
Talk about what you felt was most important to work on or where you saw the biggest challenges as a high performing practitioner in such a demanding/transforming field of Healthcare?
Well, I took this leadership course at a really unique time in history. So this was during COVID and what I think was really interesting about this leadership course is that I was in a space where I was no longer working within the confines of what we had done, that it was a very transformative time. So new ideas, bold ideas, innovative ideas were all being considered within an institution that normally was very slow to adopt and change and kind of had a system and a culture that was pretty consistent. What was important about this leadership course was how to maintain tradition and that older culture and yet, we were being forced, whether or not we wanted to or not into this new modernized world that COVID had kind of pushed us into. So the leadership course helped me transition an old guard, a new guard, a post-COVID world. And how do we communicate with all those different new needs.
What would you say were some of the key takeaways or surprises for you?
Well, for me, within my organization, the key elements to change here were really making changes that were visionary, but at the same time needed. So not change just for the sake of change, because everyone else is changing. But really identifying problems, recognizing that we were working with new confines, for example, remote work from home, Zoom meetings, etc. and executing projects that were novel, but really identified a problem and a need that needed revisions. This leadership course helped me navigate that, how to stay with the old guard and how to recognize that we're skating to a puck that many didn't see, didn't anticipate. So where the puck is versus where the puck is going. We were really looking at things as to where they were going.
It was about bringing people that couldn't recognize that with you through this journey. I mean, when we first started COVID, a lot of people thought we were going back to the way it was going to be, we'd be in this for six months and then out of it. It was really a process to bring people through to where that puck is going and how are we going to navigate this together and why do you need to do this. And that was a huge benefit of talking through and how to message it out to the whole audience.
As a leader who had to be on call in one moment and leading a strategic initiative across your org the next. How did you feel supported during and between our coaching sessions?
I felt well-supported. I think what I loved about our coaching sessions is it wasn't just... it was working through some real-life issues but with concrete how-to’s, you in particular, you never pushed me on how to problem solve. It was working through the issue and what was going to be best for me in my organization and how was it going to be successful. I really appreciated that. But I think the point around the coaching is, we would come together with a hot topic of the week or over the past two weeks, and really be able to come out of that one-hour session with a solution, if you will, or how to handle a certain scenario. It was very concrete with great examples, which is what I was looking for.
Tell us what has happened in terms of your influence, leadership, boundaries, and/or if you have experienced a greater sense of success that flowed into or affected other areas of your life?
Well, I think these coaching sessions were fabulous, because it actually slowed me down a minute. What I mean by that is it really forced me to have time to reflect on different scenarios or different goals and in that space... Also with the help of the leadership course itself, over these past year to six months to four months, whatever it might be the timeline, I really sat down and solidified, what's the next chapter here. So I was definitely in a transition period going from busy clinician or to... and administrative hat. And then, trying to really figure out what are the next steps and what are the next chapters. The coaching sessions allowed me to morph into spacing out a little bit time, so that I can do... I have time to do the administrative role now. I have time to do the clinical role now.
And we did it with, I think grace. I guess what I'd say is I was on a hamster wheel, not really knowing how to structure these leadership roles. At the end of this leadership course, we've gotten to a space where it's a very structured, defined role and responsibility that I've now taken on. It's no longer, Elizabeth's doing great projects here or great projects there. There's titles around it. There's recognition around it. There's time dedicated to it, which honestly, we talked through all those different scenarios on how to achieve that and have others recognize worth.
How are you more aligned to your vision of what it means to be a leader or to the image of your legacy?
I really transitioned from doing translational work to transformative work, and that was a big difference. In that space, the legacy that I've wanted for my leadership role has been one of fairness, one of excellence, one of high quality, one of hard work. And then also one that's framed all within the ultimate kindness and respect for each other. In each of the different projects that I've taken on, ways that we have executed them, the ways that they've been led. I have maintained my core values while still getting a great product. And that's been fun to do, to know that you don't have to get sucked and absorbed into this system, that you can really set the tone of what the group is going to be doing and how it's going to be executed and then messaged. I'm proud of that, because I'm proud then of the product and I feel ethically proud and comfortable with what I'm putting out.
What would you say to someone who may be wondering why would they work with a coach like myself or be open to coaching in general?
So Julian, what I will say is that you were not my first coach. And I went on a bad first date and I knew it was not a good fit. And then, I kind of went through profiles again, and you were the coach that came up. And I think what I really valued was you didn't have healthcare background, but I didn't need that. What I needed somebody, who understood where my personality type who could quickly understand the atmosphere or the environment that I was working in, which is what you did. Then you have life experiences from your military time and your expertise in coaching. All of which were applicable to the hospital environment and the players in the hospital environment. That is what I really valued. I did not need somebody that understood the medical language. It was really people... somebody that understood humanity and had an understanding of business.
That was really valuable to me in our coaching sessions. I actually was looking for somebody that had more of a business realm about them, because as you moved up in the leadership world, it was less about the lab values and the imaging, and much more about the skillset of how to lead and manage and navigate politics and all the other things that you can't study. That was super valuable to me and that's what I liked in my coaching sessions. There was education around it, where are you fitting on the spectrum of change? What is your personality type? How do you deal with others that are different personality types? Verbally responding, etc. And that was really great!