MGMA 2019: Three tips for women leaders

October 16, 2019
Logan Lutton
Logan Lutton

As opportunities increase in healthcare, how can women prepare to take on leadership roles?

Samantha Beatty, director of operations at Women’s Healthcare Associates LLC, and Linda J. Carpenter, CEO of Carpenter Smith Consulting, paired up at MGMA 2019 in New Orleans to give a lecture about tips women to find leadership success.

In the professional world, women have not always had the same leadership opportunities as men. Recent data shows that even though 52.9 percent of the college educated workforce is female, only 26.5 percent of executive and senior level positions are held by women, Carpenter said.

“It has historically been difficult for women to be in leadership roles,” Carpenter said. “As a result, it was more challenging to want to support other potential new female leaders because you were seen as having to drive for yourself first, in order to maintain the same sort of floor as your male counterparts.”

This leads to what has led to a phenomenon known as “queen bee syndrome”.

“Oftentimes women drive for themselves first and not always support one another,” Carpenter said. “Women would get into these leadership roles, and they wouldn't support other women, because they would feel so threatened.”

As the number of women in the workforce continues to grow, there has been an increased need for effective leadership skills to help combat “queen bee syndrome”.

Carpenter and Beatty talked about their three-step system that they believe will help women in leadership roles everywhere, specifically when faced with a difficult situation. 

Step 1: Pause

“The pause is a very active process in which you ask yourself, ‘is what I’m about to do or say in alignment with my goals?’” Carpenter said. “Leaders need to stop being reactive and they need to be able to be responsive.”

Step 2: Reflect

One of the most useful ways to approach conflict is by understanding what motivates you and the other person. Usually, fear is a motiving factor in these situations.

“This is where you pay close attention to the circumstances,” Carpenter said. “Nobody who’s confident and strong acts like a jerk, right? So, how do you increase their sense of safety?”

Step 3: Act

“There’s always obstacles and challenges and there’s of people who get stopped by those,” Carpenter said. “But the really inspiring leaders, they will start to think, ‘well, gosh, there's this really cool obstacle.’”

Beatty shared an example where she used the three steps to make the best of a challenging situation.

Her story focused on a new position where she was suddenly in charge of a large group of people. During a meeting, one of these employees said Beatty didn’t care about them, and Beatty had to pause, reflect, and act.

“I stood there and I kind of grabbed my hands, which I do when I'm trying to ground myself. I said, ‘Wow, thank you, that took a ton of courage,’” Beatty said. “I said, ‘I bet
that if you were thinking that, that there are a bunch of other people in this room that are thinking about that, too, so let's talk about it.’”

Beatty said she shifted that meeting’s agenda to have a discussion about the concerns that employee brought up.

“I needed to hear from them,” she said. “I needed to make it safe.”

Carpenter ended the session with a call to action.

“Given what you’ve heard here, what will you do in the next week to more fully step into the leader in you? Name it and put a stake in the ground.”