For the last four-plus years, Cindy MacDonald has been the Director of Community Programs and Site Administrator at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital. She recently announced her retirement which is set for the end of December 2021. She graciously (and humbly) agreed to sit down for a Rapid Fire Q&A session to share some of insights from her career and advice for younger health-care workers looking to take the leap into management.
(Dear Reader, please note that the feature photo shared with this story was taken long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Cindy, like all members of our team, diligently follow public health guidelines, including masking and physical distancing.)
Q. Best piece of advice you’ve been given about leadership?
A. My mentor told me a long time ago: “surround yourself with bright lights,” meaning other people who are committed to excellence and kindness. Bright lights bring people together and help others grow and evolve.
Q. What would you say to someone who wants to get into health-care management?
A. First thing I would ask is “why”? What do you want to achieve in your career? What’s your definition of leadership? If you’re coming into a leadership role for any other anything other than wanting to provide leadership to those around you and support patients and the organization, you may not be successful. Leadership is not about you as an individual but how you can support others to be successful. It can be a very challenging at times and you have to be in it for the right reasons. If your heart is at the bedside, you can be a leader in compassionate and evidence based care, teamwork, advocacy – there is a need for bedside leadership as well.
Q. Most important skills health-care leaders should have to be successful?
A. Communication is very important. The challenge of communicating in a digital world is that email isn’t always the best way to get a message across. How do you ensure people are informed and have what they need to do their job? How to you bring information to people as opposed to thinking they’ll seek it out on their own?
Q. Best piece of advice about being staying grounded in a management role?
A. Part of being a good leader is reflecting and learning, but you’ll never achieve everything you want to do in a role. It’s about doing the best job you can do and making positive change for those around you.
Q. Any leadership myths you’d like to dispel?
A. People sometimes think when you take on leadership positions that you need to change, but you don’t. What you do need to be is authentic and stay true to yourself.
Q. Best part about your time at WLMH?
A. The team who come in every day and provide the best care possible for patients. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work in a community hospital for the first time in my career. I’m honoured to be of service to the community, and grateful for being part of the exciting conversations about the new hospital.
Q. Plans for retirement?
A. Lots. But after 36 years of working full time in health care, I’m looking forward to what life wants to show me next.