Becoming a leader in today’s world – irrespective of what industry – can be extremely challenging and competitive. Having a mentor help navigate the system and share their experiences is a very positive way of getting started.
This is especially true for women. While there are mentorship programs available, often it is best conducted through an informal arrangement. This was one of the messages given at last year’s Women Leaders in Global Health Conference, London. According to Dr. Joanne Liu, International President at Médecins Sans Frontières:
“For me, a mentor is someone who believes in you when you don’t believe enough in yourself. [She also said that age is not a factor..taking advice from those who are] 20 or 25 years younger [than herself, which is why she] believe[s] in the wisdom of youth.”
Another success female medical leader is Chair of the Department of Radiology at the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Professor Hedvig Hricak. At the recent European Society of Radiology Congress (February 28-March 1, 2019), she organized a program entitled ‘Women in Focus.’ These sessions were for both women and men on what it takes to become a leader.
“Many people aspire to be leaders and sometimes really don’t know which way to go and how to take that path. So it really starts with leadership but it has a combination of academia, administration, as well as industry and government and then the second one is about understanding people, listening, and understanding differences. This part looks at the generation of differences and respecting everyone’s opinion and understanding where other people are coming from. There’s also a session which is mostly for women on women in challenging environments. So often we take for granted what we have and we have to be reminded – just like ECR has celebrated Africa or Pakistan – that so many luxuries that we take for granted are not really available to all over the world. And lastly we all need mentors. Children, parents, teachers, you always have mentors and then you start working and suddenly you’re on your own. The last one is dedicated to mentorship.”
In an article in Business2Community, Larry Kim gave his opinion on what qualities make a leader. He touched on 7 qualities people have that they may not even know they have which are crucial to great leadership. These are: empathy, optimism, forgiveness, altruism, eloquence, discernment and modesty. These attributes are not traditionally associated with leaders but in Kim’s experience they can be very useful for those who want to lead and mentor others.
There are many different routes to becoming a great leader in one’s industry but it seems they all have one common denominator: staying open to new ideas, to advice and to change.