Taking ownership

November 12, 2019 | (58) Comments

Maxim No. 3: We lead in our professional lives and in our personal lives.

As both a senior project manager with Patient and Family Services, and a father, Maxim No 3: We lead in our professional lives and in our personal lives, spoke to me with a certain resonance.  While I try to abide by the philosophy “work is work, and home is home,” the lessons I take from each can impact the other and often do.  In such, I have noticed it is best to take control of these moments in my life and learn from them, and not just let them wander idly by.

Most of you, I imagine, would think that qualifies as common sense, but sometimes when you get bogged down by life, in and out of work, common sense is anything but apparent.  In my mind, leadership stands in large part to taking ownership of the good and the bad. I see opportunities, both at home and at work, where I can intervene and help situations come to a better resolution.

In project management, my days are varied and rife with chances to help guide, influence and direct people into a lane that will help them better use their own gifts and learn new ones.  An example some nursing staff might relate to is being forced to learn a new system or process for doing something.

Understanding their point of view is vital in helping see the best way to assist them in better accepting new changes.  Sending in someone who cannot explain why this new way of doing something is a benefit to the staff and/or the patients will cause strife and a potential rift in a relationship with the people you were set to help.  Leadership isn’t just about directing, but understanding what you’re trying to direct to.

At home some of those same principles apply.  Try talking to a 6 year old and understanding their problems, and you might see some potential areas for improvement.  Then try explaining to them how they should make changes so things will be easier for them.  The result, they may try some of your suggestions for a short time, but then revert back to their old behavior after things don’t immediately change.

If you take that same 6 year old and really talk to them, and see things through their eyes, you’ll notice that same logic you use on adults won’t always apply to children.  Leadership at home is more about being there, compassionate, understanding, and applying small nudges to help them grow into their own person.  With home life, to me, it’s about the small, almost unnoticeable steps that eventually lead someone down the right path.

Leadership at home and work is mainly about knowing and understanding those you come in contact with.  With staff, it’s about understanding and trying to see how your leadership can make both their lives and the lives of patients better.  While at home leading is usually done by providing an example, listening, and helping people up when they fall down, because that’s what family and friends do.

I’d like to hear from you … how do you lead at home and in your community?


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.

58 Responses to “Taking ownership”

  1. Having children can make a huge change in a person’s attitude and mindset. You really learn the meaning of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” It doesn’t matter whether the situation is at home or at work, we all need to be more understanding, be a better listener and live with compassion. My children are grown adults now, have good careers, and will be starting their own families, soon. I hope I have instilled the qualities of a good parent and a good co-worker in them, by my example.

    • Cherise Hodges

      I totally agree, Having 2 young children I strive on the daily to be a great example. Having open and honest communication was something I had to learn. Instead of always talking I had to take a seat back and actually take the time out to listen and understand from their point of view.

  2. Brittany Bradfield

    This was a great read! The leading I do here at Texas Children’s helps me lead at home as a mother, and vice versa. Taking my home experience helps me lead at work by seeing things through parents and children’s eyes. What a great maxim to live by.

  3. Ken Javier

    Thanks Gary for sharing how you lead in your life at home and work. I like the example about talking to a 6 year old and leading them down the right path. It made me think about life at home with my two boys, 18 months old and a 15 year old. I recall when my 15 year old was 6 years old and I would talk to him about playing safely and ways to avoid injury. Now that he is 15 years old, he plays with his younger brother and speaks to him about how to play safely. It makes me proud to see my elder son is forming his leadership skills.

  4. Nicole Gabler

    Great post, Gary! In my home, I take the role of a servant leader. I never ask my partner to do something that I would not do. We strive to openly communicate and help one another grow. In the community, I help lead in Girl Scouts and a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo committee. This involvement has helped me become a better team player and listener.

  5. Olga Chen

    Hi Gary, it sounds like you are talking about empathy. It is much easier to lead when were able to see things from someone else’s perspective. When we can see their challenges and their strengths then we can meet those needs, adjust accordingly and move toward the desired goal. This approach is very helpful with our colleagues, clients, and children.

  6. Brenda Reusser

    I appreciate this! As an Assistant Director and a mother, I often have to remind myself to tune into “who” the audience is and adjust accordingly. Everyone has a point of view. Understanding that, is truly helpful in either role when it comes to communication.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Michelle Robinson

    Thanks for your insights. I think the best leadership is about being compassionate and being vulnerable. Seeing another person’s point of view is crucial to making good decisions. And that point of view is different for every person, because of age or circumstance. That’s the compassion piece. The vulnerable piece is admitting when you were wrong and need to do something different, showing that you are human. I try to use both pieces in my interactions at work and at home, and it seems to work well. When people know they are heard and respected they feel validated and safe. They then are willing to take risks and try new things, to make suggestions, to help out as needed. That makes for a good work environment and a good home environment.

  8. Katrina Simms

    I am a mother of three. When everyone gets home from school and myself from work. My house is a little chaotic. I always try to enforce coming home and having at least 10-15 minutes of downtime to gather yourself. Once that is done, we chat a bit about our day and fix any problems if any. I try my best to lead by showing my daughters to sit and listen. Communicate calmly and try to understand each person’s point and put yourself in there shoes for a minute. They see me working hard and helping others. Sometimes I feel what I teach them goes in one ear and out of the next. But the more they grow. I see they actually listened and doing very well. Lead by example.
    Great Read and Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thomesa Wilson

    There is definitely a bridge between leadership at home and at work. I actually consider them to be synonymous with each other. When you are aware and intentional about leading you never part from the thought of how your actions impact those around you. Without compassion you aren’t able to be as effective with either. And there’s always someone watching and looking to you to be their example or guide. I have often heard it said as, “Staff follow the scent of their leader.” Well so does your family, especially your children. This always challenges me to do the right thing at work and home, even when it’s hard or unpleasant. This is indeed an amazing Leadership Maxim to live by!

  10. Alicia Ardon

    Good message. Being a parent teaches that you are a leader to people that have different personalities and different way of seeing things. And when leading, directing and instructing you do it in a way where each individual will understand and be able to comprehend their way. to be able to lead a home or work team, you need to understand that everyone is different.

  11. Diana Harter

    Leading in my personal life took on a whole new meaning when I became a mother last year. Although it was very challenging for me to return to work, I can now see how I am providing an example to my son to follow as he continues to grow. We lead in our professional and personal lives in so many different ways. This leadership maxim helps me to be purposeful and attentive to opportunities both at work, and at home.

  12. Margaret Stuberfield

    I can agree that often the fundamental character of the person that you are peeps out at work as well as at home. I have worked in multiple capacities in my career. I also have young adult children and a pre-teen at home. I live, work and try to instill in my children the philosophy that people cross your path in life by design in what we know as humanity. My oldest son is in college in Dallas and recently had a friend that had to have emergency surgery. Although he had only know her for about a year, he went with her to the hospital, visited her, brought her home, stayed with her and attempted to make her soup. Her path had crossed his for a reason and he had the ability to listen, understand she need help and support although she didn’t ask directly and show empathy. All good qualities he took from home to real life.

  13. Delia Alba

    My children are older now but I believe by setting an example earlier in their lives it has helped both of my daughters grow into outstanding young adults. Lead by example is what I live by. I always encourage them to help others, give their time, and give generously and in doing so they have accomplished many goals at a very young age. Using the tools that you use at home can help not just in the home but in the workplace..

  14. Susan Simnitt

    Great post with really good insight. As a parent you lead your household so the maxims can be very beneficial at work and home. Understanding points of view is crucial to being a good nurse at work and a mother at home. As a parent I always tried to lead by example and also explain why things had to be done or not be done instead of “because I said so.” This seemed to help them accept changes. When we moved my kids were in 1st and 3rd grade. This meant changes for the whole family. I pointed out the good changes that would happen and told them we would still see the friends they would miss seeing every day.

  15. Seema Patel

    I was used to being in charge, having things done a specific way, and always being “in the know”…and then I had a child. No matter how well I thought I prepared or planned in advance, things often went (and still go) in a direction I did not anticipate. Learning how to stop sweating the little things, especially those out of my control, made a big difference in the way I lead at home and at work. More listening, more asking questions, and more flexibility have made a world of difference.

  16. Sarah Maytum

    Gary, what a thoughtful post! Thanks for sharing your insights. Maxim 3 has always resonated with me. Life is all about integrating all of the things we are passionate about- our families and friends, our work and colleagues. My boys reset my perspective every day. It’s a privilege to work with you- well done!

  17. Kelli Ayers

    Parenting is harder than any job anyone can ask for. Leading at home, allows me to allow my children to have family meetings, to discuss their thoughts and ideas on what we could do differently to support each other. That allows them to learn how to lead in their family, as they are welcome to call a family meeting anytime they want to talk about things. Community leadership involves communication among each other. I enjoy having get together with my neighbors, and I keep them in the loop of kids activities, family activities, and even sales in the stores for our children. That allows me to lead so that we can help each other out on small things that matters.

  18. Lusinda Mendoza

    I lead at home with what I have been given. I use my past and present experiences to prepare for the future. I realize that we can’t control everything but we can control how we react. Even though you maybe looked at to lead I now understand you don’t have to do it alone. In my community I try to lead by example and do to others what I expect in return. A simple gesture like a smile could be the difference in someone’s day.

  19. Sandra Williams

    Wow Gary! Your post was spot on! I really appreciated your blog comments. In my role as a Administrative Assistant I constantly lead every day by coordinating and organizing and problem solving. Those same skills are carried over in my personal life by organizing, planning and looking after elderly parents and by being a confidant. Most of all compassion and empathy makes excellent leadership. Looking in to the eyes of others and really understanding their point of view helps me to explain the why we must accept or adapt to a new way of doing certain tasks/procedures. In the end everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal to be more efficient and satisfied.

  20. Tara Barrick

    Thank you for your thoughts. As a mother of two adult young women, I try to lead by example and give them room to grow and become independent. Listening, reflecting on what you hear and sense, and asking questions can change how they can see themselves and the world around them. I believe John Wooden says it best “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

  21. Gabriela Martinez

    This was a really good read. I feel by maximizing individuals strengths helps both in your home and at work, if you know everyone’s strengths and weakness you can balance them out. Working as a team, getting everyone to help out with chores at home and projects at work. Always as a leader be ready to pitch in, be the model for your team and be accountable when there’s a need be prepared for any situation that arises.

  22. Vic Griffis

    I recently read this and it is true: A Manager says Go!…A Leader says Let’s Go!
    If you lead people to do their best because they want to…in lieu of because you want them to, you help develop their work ethic, a winning attitude and all concerned become Winners.
    It kind of goes back to a familiar saying…Do What is Right…Not What is Easy.

  23. Maria Naranjo

    Awesome post! Mine has a different twist – My personal life took on a whole new meaning when my 31 year old daughter was diagnosed with Adrenal Cancer (Rare, one in a million and not too much info out there). From the moment she was diagnosed to the day she had surgery to remove a mass the size of a grapefruit my leadership role has become so transparent. It doesn’t take a break, it’s within me 24/7. Although it was very challenging for me as a mother, my leadership role has helped put things into a clearer perspective on every level. I now see how I am providing an example to my daughter as she continues to face new challenges everyday. We lead in our professional and personal lives in so many different ways. This leadership maxim helps me to be purposeful and attentive to opportunities both at work, and at home. Just yesterday my daughter said to me “Mom I don’t know what I would do without you”! I held her tight but inside I was screaming!

  24. Maria J. Torres

    I appreciate your time sharing your experience as a leader. Although I don’t have children, in any home we initiate projects that will change your life. You delineate goals that impact your career, household and friends. We are all leaders in our home, work, community and more. We learn from personal or work experiences and use them as an example to keep going and be better. Change can be a good thing. I moved to Houston eight years ago with my husband leaving my family, friends and community for a new beginning, for something unknown. It’s still a ongoing project that has changed my life.

  25. Erika Pena

    I believe I lead at home by example. I try my best to practice what I preach. Especially, have teenagers, you really have to be consistent with your character, rules and goals for their and your life. I lead in my community by hosting Wednesday night Bible Studies. We pray for our community, city, nation, leaders and the world around us.

  26. Gabriela Martinez

    This was a very good read. I believe by maximizing individuals strengths both in the home and at work, working as a team helping out with chores at home and projects in the work place. Be ready to pitch in, become the role model you want your family to see and be at work and be accountable, make sure you’re ready for anything that comes up.

  27. Vanessa Kastner

    I related very well to your analogy of trying to help your 6 year old at home. As a mother of 3 (a 10 -year-old boy and twin 15-year-old girls), I often face challenges both at home and work, and the balance of the two. I take what I learn at home and apply it to work very easily since some of the new nurses need guidance in the same ways my children do, and I want it given in a nonjudgmental delivery. I also am a mentor through our local school system to a young boy who lost his mother and just needs a female role model to talk with, and we enjoy doing activities weekly. It’s is a heartwarming experience that actually makes my own children jealous sometimes. Great post and thanks for sharing.

  28. Beverly Mene-Ejegi

    This was a great blog. I have always realized that taking some of the leaderships skills that I learn in the work place can have a positive outcome in my home. At work part of my job is to follow processes and also suggest processes that can make my job easier. When I am at home, although my kids are only 4 and 18 months. I created a series of task that must be done with the ultimate goal being to get them to bedtime on time. One example is putting your shoes and socks away immediately when you get home in your closet or dirty hamper. I teach my daughters that this process helps to make their life easier by ensuring they can easily find their shoes the next day for school and socks don’t magically disappear. When this process is broken I make a point to explain to them why following the process could have avoided delays. Sometime my 4 year old may even suggest a different way of doing things and sometimes they actually do work better.

  29. Haley Streff

    Leading can often by done by listening! I spend a lot of time trying to engage and listen to my pediatric patients so I can subsequently use their interests and reflect their own language to help lead them.

  30. John Guerra

    Great principles for sure! I strive to lead the same way in my personal life as I do in my professional life. I went from having no kids my whole life to having a 13 year old step son after I got married. It was scary, for sure…but my wife has told me that I’m doing an excellent job raising him. I try to instill in him how important family values, ethics and integrity are. When I see a chance to incorporate those in a learning opportunity, I jump on it!

  31. Rhonda Bolin

    Great life story about fatherhood and leadership! I know that my world experience and knowledge improved so much after having children because I then had first-hand knowledge of so many things related to children that we need to know as caretakers here at TCH. I started working here when my children were 7 and 10 years old.

    I felt some humor about my situation and thought to warn you of what’s possibly to come as your children grow-up. The comment about, “applying small nudges to help them grow into their own person” specifically made me smile so thought I would share. Thank Goodness my boys have followed great paths and have done well for themselves AND certainly grew into their own person! Now that they are approaching mid-life themselves (faster than I like), they often realize when I’m trying to nudge them in the way I think they should go AND they, quite often, nudge back and try to work on “fixing momma”. I have to say, I did not like it the first time it happened years ago but now when it happens I try to look inside myself and see myself the way they do and work on applying that “fix” when appropriate. It’s NOT always easy!

  32. Jamey Griffin

    Thank you. Leadership is setting a positive example for others to follow. Leadership works best if the leader remembers the path and struggles they took to achieve their goals and has empathy for those they guide. Leadership and parenting is a balance to lead with both compassion and discipline.

  33. Danielle Gregory, BSN, RN, CNRN

    As a TCH nurse, your following statement really stood out to me: “Leadership at home and work is mainly about knowing and understanding those you come in contact with.” I like that you note we can lead at home and at work and in our community by taking lessons from each to use.

    I think this is one area of leadership that we can definitely improve on here at TCH, from all perspectives. It is so easy to get bogged down in the “small things” but sometimes, the small things are not so small: For instance, your patient can’t go to the playroom because they are on contact isolation, your patient’s family of young cousins (or their school friends) cannot visit due to flu season rules, or your coworker doesn’t see the point in using their rover and will just use the labels ‘we have always used.’ You definitely catch more bees with honey than vinegar, or however that saying goes…

    It is SO important to use empathy in our line of work – and at home! You have to put yourselves in the shoes of others to really understand how to productively work with them and get the best from them. As a nurse and mom of two toddlers, this is something I both struggle with and strive to work on improving in myself.

    At work – Showing your coworker how to troubleshoot the new blood administration navigator may help them feel more comfortable using it and hopefully allow for them to independently troubleshoot in the future. Also reminding them that blood transfusion mishaps are sentinel events we definitely want to avoid.

    With Patient care – Say you get report that mom in room B is so grouchy and mean. Instead of assuming the worst, take a moment to ask if everything is okay and if there is anything you can help improve. Even a listening ear for a vent session can do wonders. You may learn that the mom is in the middle of a divorce or their having trouble with plumbing at home (who knows what it could be) – but it is that PLUS their child is ill and in the hospital. That last one is enough to put anyone in a bad mood.

    At home – Why is your 3 year old throwing a tantrum at the store around 2pm? Is he a terrible child or just need a nap. Sometimes even using empathy, it can still be hard to respond to the situation appropriately (instead of yelling to calm down! How can you remove your child from the situation and getting them to a nap asap while calmly trying to redirect them to end the emotional outburst …which they are learning to deal with as little humans).

    It is definitely not easy to lead in this way, but the results can be so worth the trouble!

  34. sapna singh

    “Understanding their point of view is vital in helping see the best way to assist them in better accepting new changes. Sending in someone who cannot explain why this new way of doing something is a benefit to the staff and/or the patients will cause strife and a potential rift in a relationship with the people you were set to help. Leadership isn’t just about directing, but understanding what you’re trying to direct to.”
    At home and in our clinics, this is an essential principle in gaining buy-in from patients/staff/family members, especially when we are implementing change or new methods of doing things.

  35. Casondra Burkley

    This was a great blog. The examples given were very applicable to many work and personal situations.

    This blog reminds me of an important concept that I live by, “True leadership is not just present at work, but true leadership follows you wherever you go and spills over into every component of your life.” I believe that being a leader doesn’t happen by osmosis, but develops over time throughout various experiences whether work related or personal. It is through these experiences that we develop skills, techniques, mottos, interventions and principles that we can apply during our work day as well as when we clock out and return home. Leadership is not just what you do, it is who you are.

  36. Jennifer Duos

    Thank you for sharing. Learning how to lead myself and align myself with my own set of beliefs, morals, and values was essential and necessary as I began assuming more leadership roles in my family as a mother and here at Texas Children’s. In order to do this, it meant taking radical accountability and responsibility for the ways in which I was and was not living up to my own standards and being willing to evaluate and shift when I see areas of improvement. “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” -Warren Bennis

  37. Thanks for sharing. It is always important to take ownership and remember, there is always someone listening to what you say and, how you say it. Lead by example, respect others, you cant go wrong.

  38. Virginia Garcia

    Thank you for taking the time and courage to post such a personal blog…and quite honestly, a much-needed piece during the start of the holiday season. Often, we focus on our professional life or the professional persona we encounter and forget about the personal struggles or “opportunities” a person, including myself, may be encountering. Leading is not always about blazing a trail or rising to a challenge. It’s also about standing with or behind someone else who’s needing support or just having the courage to say “I can’t do this alone…I need help”.

    Side note: This year has been an emotional and professional roller coaster so this blog was PERFECT timing. The one constant in my life right now is I can depend on change and blogs like this bring a fresh perspective and opportunity for reflection. Once again…thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *