Women may hold three-quarters of all healthcare jobs, yet only 37% of the executives at the nation’s largest hospitals are female. The percentage is smaller still at Fortune 500 healthcare companies where less than a quarter of executive jobs are held by women.

What can women who aspire to healthcare leadership do to change that?

Act with confidence, says Dr. Joanne Conroy CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health and founder of Women of Impact — Healthcare.

In a podcast discussion, Conroy described the importance of communication – confident communication — in reaching the top tiers of healthcare administration.

“When women present an idea, a concept, or something in kind of a strategy session, they often weaken their points by using qualifiers by saying, ‘I’ve been thinking about this,’ or, ‘Would you think about it?’ instead of giving their opinion with confidence,” Conroy says.

Part of the reason for that approach, she says, is cultural. Women are brought up to emphasize relationships more than self. “They make things happen by being flexible,” Conroy says, adding there’s a time to be flexible and “a time to be firm and confident.”

There’s also a sort of tentativeness in how women present that arises from a lack of confidence in their own ideas. “When sometimes they don’t get credit for their ideas,” says Conroy, it’s “because they don’t present them in a way that makes people stop and say, ‘Wow that was a great idea.’”

Conroy recalled counseling women considering a step up, but hesitated to apply because they felt they weren’t completely prepared. “If there are 10 job requirements, [but] if they have nine of them, they’ll say, ‘Well, I’m not ready.’ But there are many men that have two of them and say, ‘That job is for me!’”

Her advice is to observe the women around them to learn from those who are good communicators. Use the power of silence, she says. “I do observe women that are making a pitch and use 100 words when they should use 25,” she explains. “There’s nothing more powerful than a very direct, simple opinion [or a] request followed by silence.”

How something is presented demands practice. Conroy says she’s spent “hours in front of bathroom mirrors making sure that what I wanted to come out of my mouth came out of my mouth.“

In the end, she says, “It’s all about confidence… [be] confident, articulate, and memorable.”

Photo by CDC on Unsplash


Jun 6, 2023

Take Today to Make Your Resolutions Real

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? About half of us did. A few more if you include those of us who sort of made them, by promising ourselves we’ll eat healthier, exercise more and lose weight “next year.” Year in and year out, those are among the most common resolutions we make.

And, alas, among the first we break.

If you made any resolutions before the start of 2019, did you keep them? The answer is almost certainly “no.” Research over the years tells us maybe 8% of all resolutions actually make it to the end of the year. In fact, by the end of January only a quarter of us resolution-makers will have kept them.

Psychologists, personal trainers, executive coaches and practically every professional involved in personal improvement tell the same story: We make too many vague and ambitious resolutions. Saying we’re going to lose weight is nothing more than a hope. A resolution that says we’re going to lose 5 pounds a month is a goal, specific enough to make us accountable and not so ambitious as to be unrealistic.

Doable resolutions are goals. Writing them down and tracking your progress reinforces your commitment, making the doing a habit. Should you slip — most of us will occasionally – forgive yourself and get back on the horse. Changing a behavior is not easy, the American Psychological Association says, so small steps are going to be more successful than attempting a big leap.

Today is only January 2nd, so go back to those resolutions you made yesterday or the day before and, being brutally honest, rethink how likely are they to still be real in February? More than two or three are probably too many.

If you resolved to save more money, rework it by specifying how much and how often and how. If you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, are there expenses you can cut? If you doubt your self-discipline, schedule an automatic transfer from your checking account into savings. Sign up for your company’s 401k. Many employers will match what you put in, doubling your savings.

Keeping a resolution is work, but it shouldn’t be painful. Every time you go to the gym; every month you lose that 5 pounds; every time you save what you said you would give yourself a pat on the back. They may be small steps toward your goal, but every step brings you closer, so celebrate them.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash