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AHIMA19 Inspires People to Lead

By Heather Hogstrom

AHIMA General Session attendees received a wooden token stamped with AHIMA’s new mission—”Empowering People to Impact Health”—on one side and “Leader” on the other. While some may think the term “leader” doesn’t apply to them, David Barbe, MD, MHA, past president of the American Medical Association (AMA), pointed out, “Leadership is not a title. It’s how you exert a positive influence in your environment.” Barbe joined AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, and AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, for a discussion on leadership.

What does it take to be a leader in health care? Working through change (because change is constant), having a vision for moving forward, embracing failures and learning from setbacks, developing interpersonal skills, and leading with authenticity by using your voice and standing in your truth are some of the necessary factors mentioned by the panel. They advised attendees to be where the action is because the way you shape your environment is by taking leadership.

AHIMA’s vision includes positioning itself as global health care leaders. “We will not—we cannot—stop until our value is known and we have transformed health care information,” Wylecia Wiggs Harris said. HIM professionals can help by continuing to build a strong house of health information and leading the industry to greater integrity and access.

Patrice Harris, the first black woman to be president of the AMA, wasn’t the only speaker at AHIMA who was no stranger to being the first woman to lead the way. Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the US Navy, also empowered attendees to be leaders and “own your role.”

Working on an aircraft carrier involves frequent staff turnover and switching job roles, so Lohrenz constantly had to adapt and learn. She learned that you don’t have to be perfect; you have to be able to launch with “good enough.” She added that failure is part of the peak performance journey, because it teaches you what you’re good at.

Lohrenz’s tips for fearless leadership include being tenacious, finding a third way, and keeping your goals out front. “If you lose sight, you lose the fight,” she said. “Your focus is your power. If you dilute your focus, you dilute your power.”

— Heather Hogstrom is an editorial assistant at For The Record.