Welcome to the Healthcare CEO podcast. Join us as Daniel Fernandez, healthcare leader and patient experience advocate leads dynamic one-on-one discussions with healthcare executives, consultants, and other industry experts. Listen in as they share actionable insights and unique perspectives into the day in the life of a healthcare CEO.
*The following has been adapted from our full-length interview, which can be found here.
Meet Jhaymee Tynan
Jhaymee is Enterprise AVP of Integration at Atrium Health. She is a corporate strategist, philanthropist, kindness crusader, wellness practitioner and champion for women of color.
Going Beyond Programs to Embrace Diversity
Daniel Fernandez (DF): I’m excited to talk about our topic today, which is diversity. What are some of those challenges you see today in diversity?
Jhaymee Tynan (JT): Yeah, I think there are a couple of challenges that I see, and number one, I think it is just a common understanding of just the importance of diversity. I think we all maybe inherently know that diversity is an important part of how we develop relationships, how we engage with one another, how we appreciate our differences as well as our similarities.
But I think from a business perspective, there’s absolutely a reason why diversity has been at the forefront of a lot of conversations recently. And I think we need to understand that in order for organizations to minimize risk, advance themselves into this next normal, you really do have to embrace diversity as an intrinsic value of your organization and of your culture. So I think just having a fundamental, basic common understanding that diversity is the next wave of the future, and is something we should be embracing, I think that is one of the biggest challenges I see with diversity.
DF: In talking with other CEOs this year, it’s been determined that this is just a year of major transformational change. There’s no question there’s just a lot going on because of what’s happening in the world today. Do you think it maybe presents an opportunity as everybody is sort of re-evaluating and reassessing?
JT: Yeah, I think it’s you know, it’s an important opportunity for us to take stock in, do kind of a self-assessment on where you are in your diversity journey and accepting that you might need to do a lot of work in that space. And that’s fine. Everyone’s at different points in that journey. But I think CEOs really have to be the champion for the organization because leadership from the top trickles down throughout the organization. And if a CEO is embracing diversity, there’s probably a higher probability that the rest of the organization will also embrace diversity, and most importantly, inclusion — making sure that people from different backgrounds and experiences feel a part of the organization of the work.
DF: To the CEO or executive listening to the show right now that’s looking to implement new changes, what are some of the common mistakes they should be aware of?
JT: Well, I think one of the common mistakes that I see a lot (and it’s hard to get away from it because it’s something that I think people gravitate toward) is the desire to create a new program to solve diversity problems. And whether it’s creating another affinity group or creating some sort of mentoring program for underrepresented employees of your organization, I think those are all great things to do, but I think it really starts with accountability, right? Holding your senior leadership team, your cabinet, accountable for embracing diversity, sponsoring rising underrepresented talent in your organization. And you don’t need a program to do that.
So I think the knee jerk reaction is we need to create a program to help with diversity. But really what you need is for every single executive, your organization, to understand their role in advancing diversity and inclusion and holding them accountable for that.
DF: That makes sense. In terms of leadership, what are some tips for maybe approaching colleagues with, you know, different backgrounds or different perspectives than you?
JT: Yeah. Well, first of all, I’m a big fan of active listening. I think when you’re developing relationships with someone that you don’t know or might be different from you, you should be taking an opportunity to be curious about who they are and listening to their unique lived experiences, because you might find that you actually do have similarities with them. So I think that’s a really important leadership principle around active listening. And then, sharing and being vulnerable, while not necessarily a leadership trait, is something that absolutely can make that emotional connection very strong with someone that’s different from you.
DF: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s something that’s resonated with quite a few of the people we’ve talked to as well. Just coming from a place of vulnerability, especially this year, has been on the forefront of most people’s minds. We need to be more vulnerable than we have in the past. What are some of the advantages of adding women of color to leadership teams?
JT: Oh, my goodness. There’s so many! Probably more than I can rattle off in this podcast. But number one, I think because women of color — and all the research supports this — have had to be twice and three times as better as their colleagues to demonstrate their aptitude, their knowledge, their skills and abilities. I think there is an innate resilience that women of color have in the workplace, and especially in times like we’re in right now with a global pandemic, recession, all of the things that are having an impact on your teams. You want leaders that really have experience being resilient. And I think women of color, by and large, have that as an actual skill and trait.
So I think that’s something that we could bring to the table. The other piece to it is being able to relate on a different level, being able to appreciate the differences that we all have, and translate that into something that could be part of the cultural fabric of your organization.
The Importance of Advocacy in Career Growth
DF: That’s absolutely amazing. Now, I’ve heard of sponsorships and I’ve heard of mentorships. What are some of the fundamental differences between the two?
JT: Yeah, well, most people are familiar with mentorship. It’s something that is a pretty mainstream topic. But how I like to differentiate between mentorship and sponsorship are really the two A’s because I love alliteration. So mentorship is all about getting advice. It is someone that you go to that is going to be kind of your coach, someone who you can have very tough conversations with, very private conversations with about your career development or navigating a different, difficult situation at work. And they are there to just give you advice on how they approach the problem and maybe give you some tips on how you can do the same.
Sponsorship is about advocacy. It’s about having someone who is going to be your advocate with their peers and senior leadership to say, “I think that Daniel should be the person that gets this promotion because I’ve worked with him. I think he’s got a lot of great talent”. And really it’s advocating for you so that you can advance in your career as well.
So mentorship is about advice and sponsorship is about advocacy. To me personally, sponsorship seems so much more powerful because I feel like there are always people that give you advice. But that sponsorship is somebody taking an active role in your success.
DF: Have you been sponsored or mentored over the years?
JT: Oh, absolutely. I have many mentors and several sponsors who have been able to advance me in ways that I couldn’t even dream of without their support. And I’ve been very strategic in trying to not necessarily separate my mentors and sponsors, but really go to them for those specific things that I need. So, again, if I need advice, maybe I’m acclimating to a new role. I’ll go to my mentors — or my personal board of directors is what I call them. But if I’m looking for that stretch assignment or maybe there’s a board that I want to sit on in my community, I reach out to my sponsors for that advocacy.
DF: What other tips would you maybe give to somebody who’s looking to engage with mentors or sponsors? What things have worked well for you over the years?
JT: Yeah, well, we’ll start with mentors first. I think one of the things that I would offer up is that mentors tend to have very limited time. So a lot of times there is a need to try to schedule like 60 minute meetings with your mentor. I think a 15 minute meeting is very elegant and gets to the point. And you always want to come to your mentors with the topics that you want to discuss, your agenda, what’s most important for you to get advice for in order to make that meeting most impactful.
For sponsors, I think a lot of times people ask, well, how do you ask for a sponsor? And typically you don’t really ask for a sponsor. You ask for what I call a sponsorship action. So, again, if it’s that stretch assignment that you really want, ask them to advocate for you so that you can get that stretch assignment and that relationship takes a long time to build. So you don’t necessarily come out and ask for someone to be your sponsor. You ask for them to take an action on your behalf.
DF: In a sponsorship type relationship, what are some of the fundamental things you would need to make it work?
JT: I think both parties — the sponsor and a protege — need to understand that sponsorship inherently is a risky proposition because the sponsor is putting their name on the line for you and saying, I believe in you and I think that you should get certain opportunities, or I want to talk to my peers about that. So you have to really have a basis of trust between the sponsor and the protege to where that risk doesn’t feel as risky. I also think that a lot of mentors can be converted into sponsors.
So as you’re going through the seasons of your career, where maybe early in your career you needed a mentor, now you can look at how you take a mentor in that relationship that you’ve built to transitioning them to be more action oriented for you and your career as you continue. So I think there’s a way to be able to convert mentors to sponsors by simply leveraging that relationship, but not being afraid as a protege to ask for what you want.
Creating a Legacy of Paying It Forward
DF: That’s that’s such wonderful insights, because I’d never even considered converting a mentor into a sponsor until our conversation today. That’s wonderful. In terms of the future, we tend to all have these big, hairy, audacious goals. BHAGS for short. You have one in particular I’d like to ask you about. So yours is “100 by 2030.” Tell us a little about that.
JT: Yes. So 100×2030 is what I call my global career initiative around sponsorship for women of color. And it really started from my own experience being sponsored in my career and how I wanted to pay it forward, because I knew that many women of color had heard about mentorship but didn’t hear about sponsorship or really know the difference or what it was. So I said I’ve had the benefit of being sponsored. How can I pay it forward? It was about this time last year, actually almost a year ago, where I was sitting down and thinking about how I could make my impact. And I said, well, what if I could sponsor one hundred women of color on my own, through my network, through things I’m involved in.
And I also wanted to be something that is bold. Something that when I look back and say, if I’ve achieved it, that it really did transform the way women of color think about their own career advancement. So I wrote an article for Forbes magazine on my commitment to sponsor one hundred women of color in healthcare by 2030. And it got a lot of really great traction. Lots of people reached out to me and I formalized it into an initiative which individuals and corporations can join to make their own commitments to sponsorship as well.
DF: In our personal lives, we will post goals to Facebook so we can hold ourselves accountable and timeline. You posted your goal to Forbes. I mean that’s an added pressure! You’re definitely going to have to hit this goal! And I think you will for sure.
JT: Absolutely. Yes, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make it public. I wanted to make it bold. And even if I fall short of 100, any number along that journey means that there’s another woman of color who is now having more opportunities, because I used my tools and resources to help them. And that gives me intrinsic value.
DF: That’s amazing. To the person listening to this podcast that’s maybe interested in a sponsorship — in this particular sponsorship or any other — what advice would you give them so they can take some action?
JT: First of all, I would advise them to look at their networks and start making sure that they have diversity in their networks from the career level. Do you have mostly peers in your network or have you been strategic in finding senior level leaders, too, to be part of your network? So being true to yourself about your network and the strength of your network for sponsorship. I also think you have to get comfortable with asking for things. And I think sometimes, as women, we’re afraid to be direct and talk about the things that we need in our careers to succeed. So making sure that you feel comfortable making the ask of whatever it is that you need for your career, but specifically with sponsorship, think about what you need to propel yourself to the next level. I also think there is this concept of being a sponsor-ready.
So before you ask for sponsorship, have you done the work to have a very good track record of achievements on your own? Have you worked on your communication skills? Do you have executive presence? Kind of think about if someone were to ask you for sponsorship, what would you like to see in that individual before you’re willing to put your name behind them? So making sure that you’ve done that self-assessment on whether or not you are sponsor-ready.
DF: Is this your legacy?
JT: I hope so. If it works out very well — and I am making good progress — I think it could be a legacy. And not that’s not the reason why I did it. It was mostly because I wanted to be able to say I made an impact. But I’m hopeful that other people will join me in this legacy. I can only do so much on my own. But imagine if I got 100 other individuals and corporations to make commitments to sponsor 100 women of color. That just multiplies the effect that we can have. So I want it to be a collective legacy.
DF: That’s amazing. It’s very inspiring as well.
JT: Oh, thank you!
DF: It is said that leaders are readers. Do you have a favorite book?
JT: One of my favorite professional books is one I read recently, by Laura Vanderkam, called What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. And I am a productivity nerd mainly because I feel like sometimes my life can be chaotic with the amount of things that I’m involved in. And especially if you’re type A like myself, you just like to be involved in a lot of things. But it really talked about how you can leverage that time before your workday begins to really have time for yourself, to be productive before everything becomes distracting for you. So that would probably be my favorite professional book.
I think personally, it’s really hard to nail down a personal book that I absolutely love. I tend to love authors a lot. Growing up, I was a huge nerd with Shakespeare, so I like to read a lot of plays and poems and poetry, etc. I would say that growing up, it was more reading the works of Shakespeare. That was my favorite thing to do because I felt like he did a really good job with the character development and telling stories.
DF: Well, eventually maybe we’ll get back to a time when we can have Shakespeare in the Park. That’s one of my favorite activities as well. Do you have a favorite quote?
JT: I think my favorite quote — and this is going back over a decade — is, “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your attitude,” by Zig Ziglar. That, to me, was very, very poignant in that how you feel and how you relate to others will dictate how far you go in life. Not necessarily your knowledge and skills, but how you approach the world really has an impact on that.
DF: And speaking of how people approach the world, to the person listening to this, the executive or C-suite member, where should they focus their energy today?
JT: I think very honestly, in two areas. Number one, self care is very important. If you learned nothing in 2020, making sure you have time for yourself is really important as you’re gearing up for next year. The other thing I would say is, really try to be a kind person. You said before I was a kindness crusader, and I think that’s really important because as we’re heading and transitioning from 2020 to 2021, if there’s one thing you take forward when it comes to how you relate to others, it is to be kind, because you never know what’s happening under the surface for that person. And it costs nothing to be kind. But to me there’s no upper limit to the price you pay when you’re not kind. So be always kind first, be always understanding first.
DF: That is a wonderful lesson for us all. And with that, we’ll bring the show to a close. Jhaymee, I want to thank you for being a guest on the show.
JT: Thank you so much. This was fun.
Learn More about How Jhaymee and Other Leaders Are Shaping the Future of Healthcare
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