Burnaby Hospital Foundation CEO Kristy James says she’s comfortable with “shared control”
Kristy James, the newly installed CEO of Burnaby Hospital Foundation, talks about some myths and realities of being a woman in the top job
Do you have a leadership philosophy or style?
I’m a big believer in collaborative leadership. I think it’s important to invest time and effort in empowering my team around me to feel confident using their strengths, talents and diversity of experience to really tap into the full collective potential of everyone in the office, or on a project, or working towards a common goal.
How does your leadership style differ from that of your male counterparts?
I think the beauty of our current climate and culture society is realizing there aren’t differences in male and female leaders instead all leaders have a unique style. For me, I work to be less autocratic. Rather than working from the top down and insisting on absolute control all the time, I believe it’s vital to have a certain amount of shared control. It’s all about building relationships and developing trust with my team. My biggest job is to provide the strategic foundations and guidance for us to be successful as a team and as an organization.
What is the most important skill you’ve learned in your career to date?
Patience. I always want to execute on great ideas right away, but Judy Savage, one of my most important mentors earlier in my career, taught me that even the best ideas sometimes need time to percolate – to allow for feedback, and make sure stakeholders are onboard.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in management roles?
As I know is the case with many of my fellow female leaders with children, I think it is guilt. I love my career and want to give it 150 percent, but as a single mom of two I feel the guilt of being away from them. At the same time, I am trying to be a good role model for my children. It’s really about balance and managing time without guilt.
What are the biggest challenges facing the hospital foundation and how will you overcome them?
We work in a very competitive landscape. There is no shortage of worthy causes, and even though Burnaby and East Vancouver are extremely generous communities, the reality is that donors only have so much discretionary income they can give. We need to show how vitally important our hospital and community programming is in supporting a healthy, vibrant Burnaby now and for generations to come.
How do you see the future?
The hospital has the second busiest emergency room in B.C. With the support of our donors, we’re going to continue to fund programming that helps keep people out of the hospital as much as possible, and ensures they have access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology when they have to be here. Burnaby Hospital houses some of the very best practitioners in the country, and we want to make sure that they have every available resource to care for our patients. ■
Follow Kristy James on Twitter @kristygilljames@BbyHospitalFdn