Diary of a leader: An evening with Candice Saunders

Summary: 

The HBA Atlanta chapter had the privilege of hosting a discussion on leadership with Candice Saunders, executive vice president of Wellstar and president of Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, on October 18, 2012 at the City Club of Buckhead. Candice shared her journey from her days as a hospital nurse to manager to her current executive title. During her engaging talk, Candice discussed the qualities embodied in each of her professional roles along with the challenges she faced as a female leader in her journey. She ended the evening by sharing the key elements to success, that not only helped her, but she believes leaders should personify.

The HBA Atlanta chapter had the privilege of hosting a discussion on leadership with Candice Saunders, executive vice president of Wellstar and president of Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, on October 18, 2012 at the City Club of Buckhead. Candice shared her journey from her days as a hospital nurse to manager to her current executive title. During her engaging talk, Candice discussed the qualities embodied in each of her professional roles along with the challenges she faced as a female leader in her journey. She ended the evening by sharing the key elements to success, that not only helped her, but she believes leaders should personify.

HBA Atlanta chapter members and volunteers, Gaby Denning and Katherine Paddrik, had the privilege of holding a Q&A session with Candice to further garner from her experience. Please see the insights from their discussion below.

1. Do qualities between male and female leaders differ?

Candice believes the healthcare industry is veering away from gender stereotyping and now advocating for finding the best person for the job. She referred to a study published by KPMG by Andres T. Tapia and Betty Spence, PhD titled “The Emerging Female-Friendly 21st Century: A Gender Revolution in Under Way.”  She discussed the importance of understanding biases and differences in leadership styles and in particular she quoted from this study: “The male style of competition, hierarchy and compartmentalized leadership is still effective, even essential, in dealing with certain challenges and power battles. We believe women and men need both styles, and therefore need each other, to find solutions to never-before-seen challenges and create pathways to never-before-seen opportunities.”

2. Are leadership qualities innate or acquired? Which of these are innate and/or acquired individually to you?

Candice shared her thoughts on leadership qualities having both innate and acquired components. She believes in tapping into others energy and she is a strong advocate in further enhancing one’s innate skills through coaching and mentoring.

3. Can you share three words that describe your leadership journey?

Upon deliberate thinking, Candice shared the following three words: being patient, being tenacious and being intentional.

4. Can you provide some words of wisdom for our young HBA members?

Candice discussed her current role as a member of the advisory council for the HBA Atlanta chapter. In this role, she discussed the importance of serving the chapter’s members through emphasis in professional development. She encourages our young members to be themselves and enhance their marketability through volunteerism. In essence, she believes there is real value in “giving to get back.”

5. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

Candice engages in an open dialogue with her employees through promoting the organization’s core values and appreciating the opinions of others. She believes that creating a safe environment is step one because it encourages people to speak up. And, it’s then important to make sure individuals feel acknowledged for their contributions. Candice says advancing creative thinking is an ongoing process within any organization and something she continuously works to improve upon.

6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Candice believes in the ability to listen and closing the loop in our engagements. By being deliberate in one’s listening skills, it reinforces one’s overall awareness and knowledge as a leader.

7. What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Candice said that people do not have to know everything when entering into a leadership position. She believes in listening and immersing oneself into the job, before leading by direction. She recommended reading “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels” by Michael Watkins.

8. What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Candice shared that her professional growth is ongoing and she develops her skills through reading, networking and establishing new connections.

As the discussion with Candice was winding down, she was asked if she ever displayed her vulnerability in her leadership, and she sincerely replied yes and that she has learned to be a “situational leader” because of that.

The HBA Atlanta chapter would like to extend its most heartfelt thanks to Candice for sharing her warmth and wisdom with the group. It was an incredible evening with standing room only attendance and the chapter is looking forward the next event on November 15th titled, “Celebrating our Future Stars: 2012 Mentoring Program Celebration.”

 

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