Reflections on Leadership

Share Your Story Blog Series

From Mentor and 2014 IWL Conference Speaker, Linda Hajduk

“Leadership is a journey, not a destination.  It is a marathon, not a sprint.  It is a process, not an outcome.” John Donahue, President of eBay

I recently had the privilege of being recognized at a celebration for my many years in healthcare.  After 33 years at a single organization, the internal changes presented an opportunity for a new leadership journey.  Colleagues, leaders, and those I had led gathered to celebrate, as they called it, my “legacy.”  I always thought that when it came time to celebrate my “legacy” I would be retired and close to 90 years old!  I never thought it would occur at the young age of 58!  Regardless, 33 years was a long time and I was honored that these individuals wanted to celebrate my “legacy!”

It was overwhelming and humbling listening to people share what a wonderful leader/mentor I was and how I impacted their lives.  As stories and words to describe me were shared; mentor, advisor, coach, genuine, authentic, leader, high integrity, teacher, inspirational, what I realized they were doing was validating how I lead with purpose and passion!

My greatest joy as a leader was, and continues to be, the relationships and the ability to lead others to discover their passions to be their best self.  It didn’t take me long in my first leadership role to realize it wasn’t about me.  It was about the people I was entrusted with to motivate and develop.  Watching individuals grow personally and professionally and seeing their joy as they succeed is the greatest satisfaction I can experience in my life!

I began my healthcare career as a nurse. It wasn’t long after taking my first position as a staff nurse, that I accepted my first leadership position as head nurse of a twenty bed adolescent psychiatric unit, responsible for thirty-two staff.   I attribute my entry into leadership from my first mentor, who was also my director.   She was an individual who saw my abilities to lead and provided opportunities that tested my capabilities. She also uncovered my passion for leading others.  Her guidance, inspiration, and teaching put me on a track that shaped my leadership.  She demonstrated to me the importance of having a mentor who could see my potential and nurture its growth. She taught me the responsibility I had as a leader to pay it forward and mentor other emerging young female leaders.

In my 33 year career, I have held seven different leadership positions starting with middle management and culminating in a senior level vice-president position.  Each position brought new challenges and new lessons in leadership. The knowledge and experience gained from each position increased my wisdom and leadership capabilities.

Leadership is not something we step into with all the answers.  Mistakes are made, successes are achieved.  It is a process that requires self-awareness.  One grows in their leadership as they understand themselves to discover where their leadership gifts can be used.  It is not for the weak or prideful.  It requires honesty, integrity, humility, compassion, patience, confidence and continuous learning.  At times it can be a lonely journey, but ultimately, leadership is a gift with many blessings!

As I conclude with my reflections, I look to the leadership principles I embraced over the years that have guided me in my journey to be an authentic leader.

  • Understanding your life story leads to finding the authentic purpose and passion of your leadership.

  • Leadership is about inspiring and empowering those we lead.

  • Let your mirror reflect every day that you acted with integrity and respect.

  • Make your wrongs right and apologize without hesitation.

  • Listen with your ears, your eyes, your undivided attention, and your heart (empathy).

  • Be a leader who is present.

  • Have passion for your work, compassion for the people you serve, empathy for the people you work with and the courage to make the difficult decisions.

Contributed by: Linda Hajduk 

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