As part of my work as the president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I spend a great deal of time thinking about what it takes to be an effective leader. What skills does a leader need? What qualities are most important for leaders to have? And how can I help shape future leaders?
I’ve found that while some people have a natural affinity for leading others, many important leadership skills can be developed with time, practice, and guidance from colleagues and mentors. In my own work with leaders at CHOP, I emphasize the importance of having empathy for your staff, asking for — and really listening to — their ideas, showing vulnerability, and recognizing that it is not realistic or even desirable to aim for perfection in every situation. I want to give leaders the tools they need to be effective, and empower them to find solutions to the challenges our patients face.
Organizations like the Girl Scouts play an important role in shaping the next generation of leaders. I was a Girl Scout for 10 years, and it was a formative experience for me. I gained confidence and honed my interpersonal skills when I sold Girl Scout cookies door-to-door. At Girl Scouts camp, I collaborated with other members of my troop to learn survival skills and the importance of teamwork and respecting our environment. And when I was in high school, I earned the Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the Gold Award, for teaching first aid to underserved children in the community — an experience that inspired me to pursue a career in nursing.
As a Girl Scout, I learned to think on my feet, work as part of a team, problem-solve, and empathize with others — all skills that I use every day as president and CEO of CHOP. I was proud to receive the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania’s “Take the Lead” award earlier this year in recognition of my efforts to improve children’s health care. And I am even more proud of the amazing employees who work so hard, every day, to fulfill CHOP’s mission. They are the future of pediatric health care and supporting them on their own leadership journeys is one of the great honors of my life.