“...in applying and even further refining your strengths,
you move closer and closer to fulfilling your natural potential...”
- Tom Rath, StrengthsFinder 2.0
In the first half of my fellowship experience with Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health, I’ve been able to dive head first into topics and experiences that are new to me as a young professional. A fellowship experience like HFA intrigued me due to the opportunity to explore my strengths and weaknesses and test drive a career path while developing myself as a leader.
With leadership as a core pillar of HFA, I have been able to watch other leaders solve problems and collaborate, and I have been able to use the HFA curriculum to explore the topic in more depth. Below are a few of the related topics I’ve been digging into from the curriculum and how I’m applying them to my day-to-day as a fellow and my thinking about the future.
Twenty percent of U.S. workers think they’re in jobs using their talents.
- StrengthsFinder 2.0
1. Understand Your and Your Team’s Personalities
Personality quizzes can be a helpful leadership development tool, and it’s always intriguing to see if the assessment matches with how you conduct yourself in your life and career.
As part of the HFA curriculum, Sharon and I took the CliftonStrengths Assessment (formerly StrengthsFinder). Then, in partnership with HFA Director Mandy Dorn, we explored how our strengths might apply to our work. Understanding ourselves, but also how our co-workers function, is imperative to collaboration and knowing who, and when, to ask for help. Not only do Sharon and I complement each other’s educational backgrounds, but we also complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help,
and brave enough to ask for it.”
- Ziad K. Abdelnour
In another example of how personality tests are helping me understand myself as a leader, my Myers-Briggs type is INFJ (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judging). This personality is very rare – less than 1% of the population – but “INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting, positive impact.”
Reading 16 personalities’ explanations, I began to understand how I exemplify passion in my work. My intuition to create my own path made more sense. I am learning how to be a leader who utilizes my strengths while supplementing my weaknesses. Combine this information with the CliftonStrengths assessment and I can start to carve out a career path.
2. Create SMART Goals
Goals help to pave the path toward the leader we want to be and the career we want to have. Prior to HFA I had some goals in mind for my time as a fellow – explore career options, learn standard research protocols and processes…. Tools and resources from the HFA curriculum, along with the HFA leadership team, are helping me to accomplish those goals and more.
One tool is the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound) goals format. This has helped me turn these goals into actionable items to accomplish during my fellowship term.
I have also learned that adaptability is important when developing goals. HFA has provided me new perspectives on health care, design, entrepreneurship and leadership, and how my skills fit into a career in health moving forward. As I learn about myself and the industry, I adjust my goals. It’s important to be open to change that will help you move your needle forward.
3. Innovate Your Personal Brand
As you set your sights on a career or a leadership position, it’s important to develop yourself and the brand that you want to convey when people think of you. If you’re a physician, what do you want other physicians to tell their patients when they make referrals? If you’re a researcher, what do you want to convey when you’re published in a journal or when you present at a conference?
In my experience as a designer, I have not only had to build brands for other companies, but I have also designed my personal brand, the brand for the company I started prior to HFA, and my brand as a yoga instructor. My HFA experience is helping me sharpen these skills and add new dimensions to my personal brand - both important to my development as a leader.
Ultimately, there’s no one thing that will make me the leader I aspire to be with the career I want to create. But by helping me understand and utilize my strengths, set SMART goals, and innovate my brand, the HFA curriculum has put me well on my way.