Leadership is a choice

November 4, 2019

Maxim No. 2: Leadership applies to everyone.

I started my role at Texas Children’s Hospital in November 2018 and quickly realized that even though I, a Decentralized Quality Improvement Specialist, am not a formal leader our culture here at Texas Children’s allows everyone to lead. We all are leaders in our own way, some more visibly than others.  Some people are leaders and they do not even realize that they are leading, but we are all watching and learning from their actions.

My current role was vacant before I was blessed to join my team in the Mark Wallace Tower Outpatient Pediatrics areas.  As excited as I was, and still am, I quickly understood I was diving into the world of being an informal leader.  Many of my colleagues will call with quality and safety questions knowing I will have the answer.  In that moment, it is my job to lead them. It is my job to help them with their concerns and move them in the right direction. I must be willing to question, I must be willing to ask for help if I don’t know and I must be willing to do the work with them to solve the problem.

Being a leader is not always about knowing everything or having the right answer the second you are asked.  Leading is knowing when to ask for help or knowing when to say, “I’m not sure, let me get back to you.”

Often times, leaders are expected to know everything. What makes someone a good leader is their ability to help their team or their peers find the right way and their willingness to work alongside them to get to the goal. Leadership is knowing when to step up and take control or when to step back and watch and learn from those you are leading. A true leader yearns for new knowledge every day and seeks out opportunities to be taught. When you look at leadership in this way, we are ALL leaders.  Leadership is something we can ALL do. Leadership applies to everyone.

Although, I have only been here a short time, I have grown and learned so much by watching my formal leaders and my peers, soaking in all of the knowledge they can give me. What I do with that knowledge is up to me.  I have chosen to use it to guide the decisions I make and the advice I give as an informal leader to those around me.  If we all keep the mentality that WE ARE ALWAYS leading, we cannot fail.  Leadership is not a class and it is not a title.  Leadership is what you do when no one is watching.  Leadership is a choice.  What will you choose?

I’d like to hear from you … how do you embrace your power to lead and make a difference every day?


Take the leadership challenge, and score a spot at a Houston Texans event!

Over the next few weeks, Mark Wallace’s blog will feature guest bloggers who share how Mr. Wallace’s Leadership Maxims apply to them and their roles at Texas Children’s. Each blog post will pose a leadership question that you may respond to in the comments section.

Throughout November, the Corporate Communications team will randomly select 100 people from the comments to attend a private event with the Houston Texans, including a behind-the-scenes tour of NRG Stadium, an autograph session with two Houston Texans football players and photos with Texans cheerleaders. The event will be held on Tuesday, December 3.

67 Responses to “Leadership is a choice”

  1. DK Lovick

    I really like your comment that “a good leader is … [helping] their team … find the right way”! It is easy to lead when you know where the team is headed; but, in my area so much is uncharted territory. As an informal leader as well, it is my highest priority to help others find that “right way”. Thank you for sharing your story Tiffany.

  2. Irene Garcia-Benavides

    I am starting the dissertation part of my Doctorate in Leadership. I am less than three months at Texas Children’s and I am totally impressed with the great job this organization is doing. It is a privilege to work here. I expect to grow professionally and become a leader at TCH.

  3. Jaleesiah Womacj

    You are so right! Leadership is a choice, but once you realize that you are a leader you have to definitely own it. Leadership qualities are indeed what you do when no one is watching! Integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, and positivity are qualities apart of TCH’s vision and I am also proud to be on board and be able to be influenced by this positive culture. Leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could, which is why TCH stays ahead of the game and is the reason why I am able to flourish in my work life and personal life.

  4. Jennifer Cervantes

    When you just happen to know the personal and professional struggles of staff, faculty and leadership because your colleagues come to you with confidence and trust that you can help them problem solve effectively in a non-biased way. When staff look up to you as a clinical person to advocate for barriers they are facing on the “front lines” with patients, families, and other providers. When happy moments, sad moments, fearful and really difficult moments, employee appreciation moments, and quality improvement moments all seem to fall on your shoulders. When parents call you before they call anyone else, even their own family members. When you may not receive recognition or accolades, but you get the personal satisfaction of knowing that you have been able to satisfy someone else’s concerns or needs for the day. That is when you know that you are an informal leader, regardless of your title. Tiffany said it best when she said most leaders may not even know they are leaders. Being an informal leader may not be a choice for everyone, but it IS an honor that is bestowed upon those who hold the trust, confidence, and hope of their colleagues. This is what being a leader means to me in my current role.

  5. Nakeisha Archer

    Thank you for sharing! Leadership certainly applies to everyone, its not about flexing formal authority, its about leveraging your gifts to influence. Its certainly not about a formal titles or positions, its more about disposition and character; how you handle situations, your work, and your walk in life. People choose to lead with greatness, and when people choose to follow, it is remarkable to see what can be accomplished.

  6. Nakeisha Archer

    Thank you for sharing! Leadership certainly applies to everyone, its not about flexing formal authority, its about leveraging your gifts to influence. Its certainly not about a formal titles or positions, its more about disposition and character; how you handle situations, your work, and your walk in life. People choose to lead with greatness, and when people choose to follow, it is remarkable to see what can be accomplished.

  7. Nicole Krowski

    Tiffany – Thank you for sharing your perspective on leadership! We are indeed all leaders and it is an honor to lead at Texas Children’s alongside you and so many others 🙂

  8. Alex De la Cuesta

    This is a good read, very motivational! Leadership for me is helping peers prosper by way of giving good advise for the team to move forward in accomplishing things. Also, I am a leader to myself to be better everyday.

  9. Keith Strobel

    Leadership starts by first listening… Asking open ended questions to get communication
    from others. Ask direct questions so a person knows it’s personal, and you’re asking for their insight. If we’re always in a posture to help, it makes it obvious to others we’re very approachable to ease a person when they might need help. It’s always good to encourage others as well go… It’s important that we go the extra mile to show we’re here for them and
    ready to help and to show we care. Solve the problem together — It’s not as important as who gets the credit. Success is growing as a Team Together

  10. N. Janelle Allen

    It’s so true. Leadership is like being in line ~ while you may not be the “leader”, it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the line straight and moving forward. If everyone takes ownership and responsibility for their link in the chain the line stays straight and moves forward without the “leader” even having to glance back because of their trust in the line they’re leading.

  11. Patrice Morrow

    Great article! I love to embrace my power to lead by creatively coming up with opportunities for my colleagues to gain new skill sets when they express interest in my role.

  12. Clarissa Guzman

    Well said! Everyone has the ability in them to lead… it isn’t about knowing all the answers but your willingness to seek the right answer and sharing your knowledge. It is also about leading by example, whether in a formal leadership role or not, you are being watched. I always watched my leaders and peers work ethic, then I took pieces of each one that I felt had the best impact on the organization and patients. I brought all those pieces together to form what I feel demonstrates great leadership. Now I only hope that my staff look up to me in the same way and follow by example to the pieces that they admire.

  13. Angela Powell

    I have been fortunate enough to work with Tiffany and agree she lives this maximum to the fullest!

    I love the comment “Leading is knowing when to ask for help or knowing when to say, “I’m not sure, let me get back to you.” Sometimes there is a misperception that leaders know everything and that is so far from true. A good leader knows they don’t know everything, A good leader creates relationships that they then can rely on to get the information they need to answer the questions and solve problems.

  14. Angela Powell

    I have been fortunate enough to work with Tiffany and agree she lives this maxim to the fullest!

    I love the comment “Leading is knowing when to ask for help or knowing when to say, “I’m not sure, let me get back to you.” Sometimes there is a misperception that leaders know everything and that is so far from true. A good leader knows they don’t know everything, A good leader creates relationships that they then can rely on to get the information they need to answer the questions and solve problems.

  15. Brittany Bradfield

    “Being a leader is not always about knowing everything or having the right answer the second you are asked. Leading is knowing when to ask for help or knowing when to say, “I’m not sure, let me get back to you.” ”

    This is such a great quote. Many people feel this pressure to lead perfectly all the time, but none of us are perfect. Even people in leadership positions need help or have questions.

    Enjoyed reading your perspective! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Kelli Santana

    I love your perspective of what it means to be an “informal leader”. As a “formal leader” in the organization, I know we would never realize our team’s full potential without all the “informal leaders” ! KUDOS to all that lead, regardless of in what capacity.

  17. Kelli Santana

    I love your perspective of what it means to be an “informal leader”. As a “formal leader” in the organization, I know we would never realize our team’s full potential without all the “informal leaders” ! KUDOS to all that lead, regardless in what capacity.

  18. Leslie White

    This was a great read! Thank you!
    I am learning more and more that leadership is simply influence. Although many have titles and roles that classify them as an official leader, I have begun to understand my role as a leader without a title. A way that I choose to embrace leadership and make a daily difference is by modeling family centered care in every interaction. I always want to go the extra step in serving our families and then follow up and explain to other staff members my why behind specific interventions and interactions. I have seen a huge shift within my microsystem of team members as we strive to provide child friendly, family centered care to all.

  19. Nancy Abbie

    We truly all are leaders here at TCH. Even the simplest thing, like addressing a parent in the hallway that looks lost or appears to need assistance, leads families and patients to navigate this sometimes frightening world of hospitals and illness.

  20. Kelly Davis

    Leadership is an action, not a position. These are words that I live by in my career, in my family life and in my friendships. I am also an informal leader at TCH and lead daily in my actions, in my decisions to support staff and peers and in my treatment of patients and support of their families. I embrace this action to leave TCH every day better than when I entered it.

  21. Kevin John

    Very well said Tiffany! Having worked with you recently I definitely see how you put these words into action! I really liked your perspective on the following – “I must be willing to question, I must be willing to ask for help if I don’t know and I must be willing to do the work with them to solve the problem.”

  22. Jill Aburto

    Well written! It is so true we don’t always have all of the answers but a great leader will find out and be sure to follow up. Some times questions come up and you may notice a trend and it is another opportunity for a leadership decision to maybe re-educate or send an email reminder. Thanks for all that you do, it all adds up to making TCH the best!

  23. Awesome article! Very well written Tiffany.

    “Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.”, is one of my favorite quotes. I always keep this concept in mind when I’m at work and also just in life generally. Keeping such a mindset contributes to being a great, impactful leader. As a staff nurse and Education Training Partner, I embrace my power to lead and make a difference every day by being fearless, embracing new ideas and opportunities, and leading by example. Texas Children’s and my department (Pediatric & Women’s Radiology) always makes me feel empowered to be a leader no matter what role or position one is in. As Tiffany stated in her article, leadership is a choice and leadership is what you do when no one else is watching! I concur whole heartedly.

  24. Nicole Gabler

    Loved this! I have been a member of the Texas Children’s family since February 2019, and I feel the same way. We have an amazing culture here and leadership offers the greatest encouragement to pursue big goals.

  25. Alicia Ardon

    “A good leader is their ability to help their team or their peers find the right way and their willingness to work alongside them to get to the goal”. I agree with this, I think our leaders should be willing to help the team and peers, as a team we can achieve a lot. I am not a leader yet but I do enjoy helping others.

  26. Alicia Ardon

    “a good leader is their ability to help their team or their peers find the right way and their willingness to work alongside them to get to the goal”. I agree with this, I think our leaders should be willing to help the team and peers, as a team we can achieve a lot. I am not a leader yet but I do enjoy helping others.

  27. Diana Harter

    Tiffany, what a great reminder that regardless of our formal roles, we all have the opportunity to lead. The act of leading and or leadership can translate to any discipline and we are absolutely fortunate to have that concept ingrained into our culture here at Texas Children’s.

  28. Christina Graham

    I love this and completely agree. I’ve been practicing in my field for almost 20 years and never cease to learn from my co-workers, both young and old! Leadership definitely starts with our own attitude, embracing the learning process each day.

  29. Pam Heise

    Thank you for reminding us about these leadership qualities. I appreciate a leader who is willing to ask for help. It demonstrates that they are a team player and interested in others opinions and experience.

  30. LaWanna Meade

    Leadership is an ART. But to be clear, everyone is not meant to lead. Someone has to follow, which is also as important as leading. Also, if you don’t follow well, then you won’t make a very good leader. First, one must dive in and learn all there is to learn. Then, you must apply what you have learned, by doing, and lastly, share your knowledge by teaching and leading others. Great leadership is a catalyst to new innovations, new ideas, and improvement of many things……like water is to a dying flower. A good leader knows how to pull out each person’s strong-suit, thereby nurturing new ideas and recognizing each person’s uniqueness and talents. It’s not because a leader is smart, but a good leader motivates, cultivates, encourages, listens, recognizes and rewards hard work, even when the result is not always a good one. Not every effort yields success the first time around; but some things come only by trial and error, and a good leader knows how to build up and still encourage one through failures onward to success. We all have a part in the success or failure of anything we are a part of because each of us is a link in the chain, with someone in front and someone behind, so working with excellence is what makes a good leader and a good follower. Very nice blog.

  31. This was a great article. As leaders, it is easy sometimes, to assume your way is always the best way. A good leader is a good listener and is open to other ideas and ways to achieve success! We should look at the situation from the perspective of our staff and work together to create a comfortable and productive environment. They should always feel that their input is important.

  32. Lauren Ivanhoe

    I love this blog! The power to lead is not embraced in a title or position. That’s one way to lead, but very ineffective when you think about leadership that leaves a legacy. I believe Jesus was the perfect example of demonstrating the power to lead through building relationships. He was a servant. He put others first. He met the needs of the people above his own. He sought to understand his followers’ perspectives. He loved, He cared, He corrected – all within the context of relationships that made him worthy of being followed. I embrace my power to lead and make a difference every day through implementing leadership as an ongoing process of intentional influence by seeking to build relationships the way Jesus did.

  33. Vanessa Kastner

    I think great leaders empower their employees to be great as well. Great leadership starts with listening by empowering below them to speak up and bring concerns to them then act on those concerns and provide feedback on what or what cannot be done to the employee that brought them the concern in the first place. Great leaders make sure their employees know they are truly listening.

  34. LaShauna Jones-Talley

    When I think about leadership, I think about listening, learning, lending a hand, and letting go of the urge and/or need to always be right. While I’ve only been a part of the TCH team for about 6 or 7 weeks, I’ve definitely had the opportunity to lead and have had the opportunity to be lead by an amazing team of Social Workers, in addition to other helpful leaders like the Gift Shop volunteers, Cardiology Clinic staff, and security staff to name a few.

  35. Anna Aguirre

    Well said! I totally agree with your statement “Leadership is something we can ALL do. Leadership applies to everyone.” This is such a true statement. Thanks for being a role model.

  36. Whitney Simon

    First and foremost, this is an incredible read!

    I choose to lead everyday of my life whether that be in the work place, with my family, or in my nursing organization. I delegate tasks, share flexibility, and motivate others! I find that the most important quality of leader is motivating others around us to reach and achieve a common goal.

  37. Laura Villar

    There are so many articles written about leadership, “What is Leadership?, 100 Answers to leadership, four types of leadership, three types of leadership!! “ Lol
    In my mind, what Tiffany states Hit’s the Mark; “We are all leaders” Encouraging, accurate description. Thank you for sharing your insight Tiffany I genuinely appreciate your perception and inspire to your well-written vision.

  38. Danielle Gregory, BSN, RN, CNRN

    I liked how you said “Leading is knowing when to ask for help or knowing when to say, ‘I’m not sure, let me get back to you.'” One of my greatest pet peeves in life is encountering the “I don’t know” answer along with “that’s not my job” attitude. As TCH employees, I hope that we all have the desire to go above and beyond. I am always trying to find answers for my patients and families and coworkers. “I don’t know” just doesn’t cut it, even when you are tired or frustrated. By acknowledging what you don’t know AND trying to find the answer, shows great leadership! Thanks for what you do 🙂

  39. Veronica Campos

    This is a wonderful article and thank you for sharing. I do believe that everyone who works here is an informal leader whether they realize it or not. As a nurse in the NICU, I see my teammates acting as leaders every day. We are leaders to our patients and our patients’ families when we educate them, and we are leaders to our peers when we help them with tasks or answer questions. Leadership comes in many forms and I am glad that this article reflects that. I hope EVERYONE who works at TCH realizes that they are a leader to someone and that they play an integral part in ensuring safe patient outcomes.

  40. Rosemary Campo

    .“Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.”
    Mr. Wallace what a true vision! Thank You for your Great Leadership!

  41. Ken Javier

    “Leadership is not a class and it is not a title.” I love that statement because it re-enforces the belief that everyone here at TCH, no matter how we started here, has the ability to be a leader in our community. One of the ways we all have the ability to lead is by simply being approachable. Saying “good morning” or asking “how are you doing?” to your fellow TCH members helps to create a warm atmosphere and is a step towards forming a stronger relationship. More often than not, the responses back are reciprocally warm pleasantries, however there may be a day when you and your fellow TCH alum might approach each other for operational assistance. That assistance may not come as quickly if we are not approachable. I am all for investing in higher education, but thankfully this “doctorate degree program in approachability” is free!

  42. Clarissa Guzman

    I love the fact of admitting when you don’t know something… knowing all the answers isn’t what makes you a great leader, being able to find the answer and close the loop with your staff does. To make your peers, patients, and staff feel heard, recognized, and cared about.

  43. Sharon Buhman

    My favorite line is, “Leadership is knowing when to step up and take control or when to step back and watch and learn from those you are leading.” The question is whether this kind of discernment can be learned or is it innate?

  44. Rhonda Bolin

    Great blog Tiffany! I’ve been here a lot of years in both formal and informal roles. I once heard a leader say, “I am a nurse. I am a leader” and loved it! I jotted it down and taped it to my desk where it still lives nearly 9 years later. That day, I chose that as my own motto!

    In closing, you wrote (and I love it), “Leadership is what you do when no one is watching. Leadership is a choice.” I CHOOSE to be a leader!

  45. Sheetal Ngao

    You are 100% on the spot with your article! Leadership is the good you do when no one is watching. I have several people on my team that work at night within Supply Chain. I often bend over backwards to come spend a night working with them, and it is not to check up on them. It is so I can embrace the leadership quality they each show, each day they come to work. It gets challenging in your personal to change your world around to work at night with obligations such as families and social events, but I do it so I don’t forget the sacrifice they make to come to work. It shows that I too will make the sacrifices in my personal life for work, and because nothing can replace having that face time with my team. The genuine thought really means a lot to my team, and it really goes a long way!

  46. Carmen Roberts

    Leading is knowing when to ask for help or knowing when to say, “I’m not sure, let me get back to you.” This applies to everyone here at TCH at all levels of employment . Applying this leadership idea will help us provide safe care for all of our patients.

  47. Taresa Mikle

    As a working professional, I’ve had the opportunity to work with executive leaders within many different organizations. Although the experiences have varied, what remains constant is the significant influence that their leadership style has had on the overall organizational culture. The way in which Leadership is defined and modeled from the top tiers of the organization has a huge impact on how it permeates throughout the entire organization. Here at Texas Children’s we have an AWESOME opportunity to see inclusive and servant-based Leadership in action at all levels of the organization. This is something that I do not take for granted!

  48. Melissa Nugent

    “What makes someone a good leader is their ability to help their team or their peers find the right way and their willingness to work alongside them to get to the goal. Leadership is knowing when to step up and take control or when to step back and watch and learn from those you are leading.”

    This is the type of leader I am striving to be. It’s so much harder to take the time to work with someone and help them get to a solution versus taking it over for them. I really couldn’t have stated it any better. Thank you for sharing!

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