Kettering College Holds Leadership Seminar

April 3, 2024 —John Nunes has been the Leadership pillar liaison for the new institutional outcomes since 2019 at Kettering College. Serving in that role, he worked alongside the college’s executive committee to launch a leadership seminar this year. John says, “The theme this year was Leadership Crucibles, inspired by the work of Warren Bennis. The seminar focused on each speaker’s experiences in life that were transformational to their leadership journeys.”

John invited three inspirational leaders in healthcare to speak at the leadership conference: Dr. Tiffany Thompson, Dr. Justina Or, and Jaime Testa. The speakers shared their personal experiences in leadership and how they’ve grown their skills and knowledge.

Dr. Tiffany Thompson is a Kettering College graduate who worked as a nurse at Kettering Health for several years before becoming a leadership coach. She explained there are low, middle, and high-road leaders, and there are differences in how we lead and encourage others, as well as differences in what we seek out and value from others and how successful our team might be because of our leadership style.

She said, “I learned I can’t be a high-road level leader until I learned to lead myself well.” She told the group of a time when she was working in a nurse leadership position and was so consumed with focus on a recurring patient that Dr. Thompson stopped being a leader to her team. She said, “I realized all the turmoil and sadness my team was going through and that I was going through it with them rather than leading them. I prayed for strength to lead my team and made a commitment to become the leader God called me to be.”

Through her own experiences and discovering what tools work in leadership, she has realized practices of self-leadership that she began to implement to best lead others well. She came to understand leaders have to manage their emotions, time, priorities, thoughts, words, and personal lives. When leaders pay attention to these areas, they can lead others as they need to be led and create spaces where ideas and feedback are welcome without defensiveness.

She acknowledged that being a leader can come with conflict with others when not everyone views issues in the same way. She said when she worked as a nurse in leadership, and now in her everyday life, she prays, “Lord, help me see this person through your eyes, not mine.” She said that doing so has helped her to lead with love.

Dr. Justina Or is an assistant professor of Health Sciences at Kettering College. She discussed what leadership means to her by saying, “Leadership is more than just a position. It’s really a practice you engage in in various areas in your life.”

She explained the first element of leadership is service. Her leadership journey of serving humans and bettering humanity began to come into focus when she was about 19 years old as she began to be interested in psychology and social justice. She realized higher education would be the tool she could use to help people and become their advocate.

To that end, she has always taken work that has aligned with her goals to serve and promote social justice. She said, “People just want the same thing: to live a happy, meaningful, and fulfilling life. Recognizing that fuels my continued desire to want to serve and help people from all walks of life to achieve that.”

She continued by telling the group that a good leader takes the initiative to solve problems and empower those they are leading. She added it’s important for leaders to trust people, pay attention to the language they use, and although the desire to serve is vital, self-care for leaders is essential. She said, “It’s good to serve, but it’s also good to have a good quality of life.”

Dr. Or acknowledged that “sometimes your service is not going to feel appreciated, and sometimes it might be taken for granted. Sometimes it might feel like your service is going nowhere.” She added, “It matters, even when it feels like it doesn’t. If you help 10 people, maybe 9 won’t appreciate it, but if 1 out of 10 benefits from what you do, that matters. Maybe one day, one month, or their whole lives will be changed because of your leadership and service, and that matters.”

Jaime Testa is a Healthcare Management student at Kettering College who currently works in the boutique and spa in Kettering Health’s Cancer Center. She recounted her first management position years ago at another job at a time in her life when she hadn’t learned any leadership skills.

As she has moved up in her career, she has gained knowledge of how an effective leader shows up. She said she now knows it’s important to make connections with others, appreciate them, and put time and attention into them, so “when I bring up a correction, it doesn’t hurt.” She said this creates an environment where people feel they can be their authentic selves.

Jaime added this is equally important for leaders to feel for themselves. She said, “The authentic me is someone who trusts people. I will always believe in my people. The authentic me is someone who wants to have a purpose at work.” She said when someone leads with a purpose and mission in mind, that same focus should be instilled in those she is leading. She said a team’s purpose should never be “Because my boss said so.” They should be excited about the team’s collective purpose of doing something important, and in her case, this is serving patients.

Jaime said over the years, she has learned through her experiences that it’s better to set boundaries instead of trying to be “whatever anyone needed” to instead focus on who she is. She said, “Being perfect, polished, and always available to my staff was not working. Boundaries are good, so I can best serve my staff.”


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