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7 Questions on Leadership with Joseph Messina

Name: Joseph Messina

Title: Managing Director, HR Strategy and Effectiveness

Organisation: ChenMed

Joseph has over 18 years of HR and Talent Acquisition experience in the Healthcare and Investment Banking sectors. He is currently the Managing Director of HR Strategy for ChenMed in Miami, FL.

Joseph’s role is to ensure operational excellence and the strategic measurement of people, process, and tools as well as ongoing business critical HR infrastructure and governance. Joseph is an SME in multiple disciplines including strategic workforce planning, budgeting and forecasting, process optimization and improvement, operational efficiency, training & onboarding, and Talent Data, Analytics & Insights. He has spoken at events such as LinkedIn TalentConnect, Syncota Talent Branding/Employee Engagement, Findly Talent Leadership roundtable, BWG Talent Leadership Roundtable, St. Bonaventure “What a Recruiter Looks For” keynote, and sits on the advisory board of TALK South Florida, Purdue University Global (MA Program), and CareerArc Innovation Advisory Council. He was also was named Top 10 Talent Professional by OnCon "Talent Icon" Award (2023) and was in the March 2023 Mirror Review cover & article, called “The Top 10 Robust Healthcare Leaders."

He is an avid traveler, loves live sporting events, culinary arts, and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Joseph's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

In today's world navigating the rapid pace of the changing landscape both within the sector and role. Rapid technological changes, shifting market dynamics (within HR and Healthcare), and evolving societal expectations add elements that cause uncertainty but navigating these and having to make informed decisions and influence decision making, while leading and painting and vision for the people that report to me is an exciting and constantly changing challenge.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I've always had natural traits that make up a leader, things like ability to motivate others, open communicator, can paint a vision, ability to influence (sometimes without authority), strong sense of urgency and accountability, but really my path like many others started as a very strong individual contributor, got very good at my trade and developed skills not normally skills that others share in my same role as a way to differentiate myself. Thru good performance, it naturally shifted into leading others. I'm also passionate about the process of self-study, education, training, and experience to constantly evolve my skills and stay in tune with the market conditions around me.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Some of these items are personal and other business, as I think both are inter-webbed and without one the other wont work but generally.

1. My morning routine, I like to start off with a work out or mental stimulation like reading. Writing down my goals and what I am grateful for balances me and helps me start off the day on the right foot.

2. After the AM routine, where I also think about my goals (short and long term), I'll begin to think thru key tasks, and create an agenda for myself to ensure I'm focused and aligned. Ill also think about how to align the team, set the expectations for them and the vision for the day (and how it ties into the long term vision)

3. Will have a series of meetings and collaboration projects scattered thru the day. Team member "love meetings" (general check ins and discuss the tasks, get ideas from them to get the team invested), I like to do collaborative meetings to foster engagement from all parties, gain alignment and get skin in the game for decision making.

4. Admin Time - its important for me to maintain tactical productivity as well as strategic so I like to block small gaps of blocked, un-interrupted time that allows me to focus and concentrate. I'll go after mission critical projects, strategic planning or just thinking through implications of decisions or how I can help our Executive teams think thru challenges, provide insights and analytics to help influence decision making and how I can align my function/COE to the overall business strategy.

5. Networking and Fostering Relationship - addition to the aforementioned Collaborative meetings, building connections and trust is very important to me. I like to dedicate time to foster my company relationships and also peers and industry leaders. This allows me to talk to other leaders about challenges, network with peers facing similar challenges and also helps me be a better leader and more informed. I also take time to talk to my mentors and also allows me to mentor others.

6. Learning Opportunities - I'll spend some time reading and learning, perhaps thats industry trends, relevant materials, professional development, et al. Learning and education can be as large or small as reading a white paper or attending an off-site conference. Continuous learning is very important.

7. Look for delegation or empowerment opportunities - I believe in delegating tasks to capable team members whenever possible. As I planned in #1, I also plan for delegation opportunities for the day, 1. to expose and help others grow and 2. to allow me to shift to more strategic work throughout the day.

8. Towards the end of the day, I always do my post-mortem or "reflect and review" - as I'm wrapping up for the day, every single day I self reflect and self assess my work and review progress towards my goals for the day and how I tracked to the long term goal. Take the time to celebrate achievements (personal and to my team) and make necessary adjustments.

9. Lastly, my evening routine is that I'll begin to plan for the next day, review my "post mortem" one more time and then I "shut down", spend time with my family, understanding the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important to me. Also plenty of studies show if your teams see you as a leader working 24/7, or you as a leader, send emails/texts to your teams, they feel an obligation to respond thus imposing on their own time. This doesn't mean important business can't be done, but if it can wait, wait.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Not necessarily a recent learning but something I constantly watch for and feel is important (and remind myself daily) is the power of humility, many leaders feel "they have all the answers" or were amazing individual contributors therefore that easily translates - its important to balance and ground yourself to know that we don't have all the answers, a leader can find learning opportunities in every interaction. It' okay to embrace vulnerability, lead with authenticity, and look for ways to foster a strong work environment. It's important to acknowledge mistakes, seek feedback and value opinions of others. Some of the best "strategies" I've ever done came from a conversation with the people doing it every day, and its okay that is the case. By embracing humility, that also fosters trust, innovation and collaboration. You can encourage good conversation, empower others, and create an environment where all feel heard and contribute.

In conclusion, I constantly remind myself that being a "leader" isn't about control, but rather about serving and enabling the success of others.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

When I first entered leadership in 2007, my father gave me a book that his company gave him, called the Carrot Principle. Outside of a reminder of him and his leadership style it was my first real "read" into how great managers engage, motivate and value your employees/team. Retention, Engagement and Productivity are earmarks of "Effectiveness" so this book helped me shape my vision and how I look at these earmarks and early realization that my style can positively (or negatively) impacts others. It also highlights the importance of recognition and positive reinforcement and how "simple" it is to do but how many leaders don't take the time to do it or so focused on the next task they forgot about the human element involved.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

True "leadership" isn't about personal successes, it's about inspiring and empowering others to be successful. Create an environment of learning (for you and your teams), seek diverse perspectives, seek feedback whether you like it or not, and embrace failure as an opportunity for growth. Stay true to your value system, lead with integrity even if that means leading where nobody else is and strive to make a positive impact.

In my opinion, the a great leader is not just what YOU accomplish but the legacy that you have and leave behind with the people you've engaged with and the lasting change you inspired.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

The mentee becomes the leader. My own personal story, without saying names, there was a recruiting leader in my very early years who took me under their wing, taught me the ropes and was one of the most humble and giving people I've ever encountered. Why I'm saying this is that he didn't have to be, showed many of the traits I mentioned above that a good leader is and spent his time giving back his knowledge to me, trained me, was a friend when nobody else was and helped me network with everybody and anybody he could to make me feel welcomed and also start to build my own network and brand.

We've always remained in contact, I went into healthcare, he stayed in investment banking (where I cut my teeth), still a mentor to me today, but had an opportunity pop up on my team, reporting to me which I had pitched it to him as he'd be the perfect candidate for it, I had first hand knowledge of his skill-set and his mentorship, ability to influence, etc. He had accepted the role and all these years later he one of my best employees, a great friend, and colleague to all.

He could have said no, or felt some type of way as he knew me as the "kid" and now came full circle but rather then feeling that way, he humbly embraced it, and not only embraced it was proud of me and honored to work side by side with me again. This is what I meant by humble leader, leading with humility, and knowing that he inspired me and I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for his love, commitment, mentorship, and and leading me all these years.

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