The Swedish file Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2010

Born: Richmond, Va.

Education: Bachelor of arts degree in political science, University of North Carolina — Charlotte; master’s degree in health administration, Duke University

Background: I worked for my father on our farm growing up, which is really where I learned my work ethic. In terms of an actual paying job, I worked as a busboy and waiter in a restaurant while in high school. I learned a great deal about human nature in that job, trying to figure out what it would take to get a good tip, who might leave a good tip, who might not. After that, during college, I worked in a cigarette plant. There, I learned a lot about production, process and people. I learned about the incredible diversity of our society.

Swedish on the forces that shape a leader: A leader is a mosaic, and I can’t say that any one piece is a definition of that mosaic. It is a combination of tiles that paints the whole picture. I’ve been associated with about 10 different mentors and eight different organizations spanning the entire spectrum of health care, and that is what has created my leadership mosaic. Every piece of that mosaic has a lesson that created me as a leader.

Swedish on accepting challenges: One point I should underscore: A leader should recognize challenges as nothing but opportunities cloaked in mystery — with a little bit of stress and anxiety thrown in, too. But a great leader will always reach for the opportunity presented by those challenges. It is really the convergence of opportunity and preparation that creates success.