In this executive mentoring success case study, Carm Moceri of Healthcare Alignment Solutions™ explains his role of mentoring an up-and-coming talented executive leader. However, this leader’s progress was stifled because several leaders in the organization perceived that he was more concerned about his title, position, and career advancement than the organization’s success. As this was not the case, once the leader was aware of how we was being perceived, he was devastated. So, Carm spent time with this leader sharing sage advice and examples from his own experience as a young executive and when senior leaders invested time mentoring him. Over the next several months, the leader made great strides to change his thinking and behaviors, becoming a more effective leader, and the changes were recognized by the senior leadership, his peers, and team. With continued investment and mentoring, he was able to advance and take on a rewarding senior executive leadership position with another healthcare organization.
Mentoring is a lot of fun. And again, I’ve been so blessed by having great mentors. And I have spent the better part of my career mentoring others at all levels of the organization … just because of my experiences. I’ve been the chair of boards. I’ve been a senior executive in leadership roles. And I’ve worked as manager, director, and vice president. So, I’ve had the opportunity to experience most of what these folks have experienced and had really good mentors.
Some of those mentors were board chairs that helped me when I was the senior executive as a hospital president, for example. Some of them were the bosses that I reported to that actually acted more as a mentor than a boss. And some of them were through outside coaching.
So, an example that I can give – a mentoring that I really am excited about – was one in which I had a director that I worked with. And the director was four to five years out in his career from his fellowship in leadership. And the director really felt that the individual, he, himself, was somebody who should be at a vice president level or even at my level after five years in the organization.
And what became evident as I talked to others in the leadership role above him in the organization, was that he was viewed as somebody that wanted to progress and not put the time in to progress in his career.
So, he was viewed as somebody that was always reaching for the golden ring. And the role he was in was almost irrelevant to him the role he was in was only a stepping stone to get to the next role. Though this individual didn’t perceive himself that way, many of the senior leaders that ultimately would be promoting him saw him in that way. They believed he was doing great work, but they didn’t believe he was doing great work for the value of the organization – that he was trying to do the great work to be recognized, to advance his career.
And I came into the organization and got feedback from him that he should be moving up more quickly. And I got feedback from others that that’s all he’s focused on, even though he was extremely talented in his work. And I saw him as someone that could advance, but not necessarily in the way that he was projecting himself.
So, we went through a lot of work together and talked about it. And I talked about experiences that I went through early on in my career. I thought that I should be advancing more quickly than I was. And I went to the senior leader I reported to who was a great mentor to me at the time, who gave me some sage advice around “it will come … but do great work first. Let’s work on our goals and objectives. Let’s create the right culture for people to thrive in. And then let’s see how that helps you to advance your career; let’s give you more tools in your toolbox. You’re five years out, you’re three years out. There are things you need to learn before you can sit in my seat. There are things I need to learn before I can sit in the next seat.”
And it doesn’t matter just how smart I am, because that was part of this individual’s challenge. He was very smart and he knew he was smart. And he’d see people in senior roles and think, “I’m smarter than you. Why are you in that seat and I’m not?”
But the pieces that he needed to learn – which he did – it was exciting when we, when we agreed to turn the team over to him. The people that reported to me, many of them started to report to him, and he started to do great work in holding weekly meetings with them … holding accountability sessions around what are we working on. How can we support each other? He started showing up very differently.
As a result of our talks, and our talks were very specific around his leadership style, our talks were very specific around “I’ve talked to a senior leader that views you this way.” And he was devastated. He said, “That’s unfair.”
So, what did I ask them to do? I asked them to meet without me and sit down and talk about how that senior leader perceives he is only wanting to advance instead of wanting to create a great environment, and wanting to meet the objectives, and ultimately being seen as somebody that’s ready to advance … about spending the time they need to learn about different things and leadership – that maybe they’re prepared to lead a team. And he started showing up differently.
And then after I left the organization, he asked me to continue to mentor. And we had a few conversations. And then he started applying for roles – senior level roles – outside of the organization he was at and asked me about those.
We walked through some scenarios about how to interview. He asked me to then serve as a reference for him. And within a few months after I left, and we went through this mentoring process, he ultimately landed a senior leadership role as a vice president in another health system because of the way, now, he was showing up differently.
And he talked about those things that he learned through the process of growing, and putting his time in, and making sure he engaged people, and thought about cultural transformation – how to create the right culture within the group – that he was accountable for – to drive overall satisfaction and retention of the people that he worked with.
So, that to me is a great example of mentoring somebody that was so focused on career advancement, but didn’t see how they were showing up. And all of a sudden, through a series of dialogues, through changing roles and responsibilities, through talking about my experiences that I went through – giving him alternative ways to approach his leadership – ultimately, now, as a senior executive in a health organization six years out from his career – probably sooner than others – because he started thinking and hearing about things that I went through, things that I’ve experienced, people that I’ve seen in advance, as a result of of thinking about their style and about how they’re being perceived.
So, that’s an example of mentorship.