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How women can prepare themselves for leadership roles Featured

7:01pm EDT January 31, 2012
How women can prepare themselves for leadership roles

Gender diversity in corporate leadership

If a woman wants to pursue a corporate leadership role, it might be to her advantage to be a fast walker. That’s the candid advice of Rob Falkenberg, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Ohio.

“I look for fast walkers,” he says. “I find that fast walkers are fast thinkers; they’re fast doers. I want people who are really driven, energetic and passionate about their work.”

Falkenberg was one of three CEO panelists at the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Ohio Chapter discussion in October. The panelists were from leading Ohio health care organizations where women are clearly succeeding in corporate leadership roles. The panelists fielded several questions from moderator Shari Tordoff, and here is the top advice from the CEOs on how women can give it their best shot:

“First of all, I would say be assertive about your goals, and also be understanding that things don’t always happen on your timetable. Be very clear about your expectations, your objectives and career, work hard for it and be patient and very flexible.” - Rob Falkenberg, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Ohio

“Do purposeful networking ? make a list of five people you want to meet or have lunch with. And consciously do it once every two months. It can be intimidating ? let them get to know you, and don’t make them all women.” - Pete Geier, CEO, Ohio State University Health System

“Women have to ask. Women will tend to wait to be asked to get to a leader position. Be a little more aggressive. Secondly, have a willingness to be coached. View feedback as a gift given to get better than a criticism.” - Mike Kaufmann, CEO, Pharmaceutical Segment, Cardinal Health

Summary: Be assertive while being patient. Network with a purpose. Show willingness to be coached.