As I sit here pondering the honor of being selected as Senior Healthcare Leader of the Year for North Texas by the American College of Healthcare Executives, I want to reaffirm my support for the importance of executive coaching and mentoring up and coming healthcare leaders.

Many healthcare executives say they entered this profession because of the people;  they wanted to help people or perhaps to make a positive contribution to society.   I think that is true, but far too many go to work, earn a nice salary and do little more.  That certainly is one important way to contribute.  However, I believe that approach to helping people is the glass half full.  To me, that seems like the “helping people” equivalent of achieving success and then pulling the ladder up behind you.

No doubt all of us claim challenging and busy careers.  We have important commitments to our family, our church, and our friends.  And let’s not forget about our hobbies.  But the act of giving something back to the community must also include devotion to our profession and a real commitment to helping those who will follow us as the healthcare leaders of tomorrow.  These bright and promising executives will be forced to deal with some extraordinary challenges including shrinking financial resources and increasing market demand.

Giving back to our profession — whether it is healthcare, the law, medicine or banking — must be more than being paid for being a leader.  There is not much give there.  Making a contribution to a profession or for the betterment of society is in addition to our daily routines and responsibilities.

As an executive recruiter, I try to allot time each week — usually at the end of the day or for a while on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings — to counsel people who are out of work, or those who are looking for their first break to move up that narrow executive ladder.  They are frequently upset, scared, or both.  In the case of the executive-to-be graduate students, they are anxious to prove their worth and frustrated that they cannot find a place to prove themselves.  

I do not charge for this work.  As a retained search consultant, that is not the work I am in business to do.  It is pro bono publico, is Latin phrase meaning for the public good.  However, at the outset of each call, I do insist that those that I counsel promise one thing as a form of payment: that when they are re-employed, or when they achieve success in their careers, that they pay it forward, and to always remember this time in their lives, and when asked for help, to turn around and give back to the profession.  

To my valued colleagues, including Britt Berrett, PhD, FACHE, the outgoing ACHE Regent in North Texas, and the President of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas I want to thank you for this wonderful honor.  I promise to work hard to do it justice.