Name: Mike Wood
Title: Chief Information Officer
Oranisation: Avem Health Partners
Mike is a seasoned technology leader with over 20 years of experience working in the healthcare space. Throughout his career, he has consistently demonstrated his expertise in driving innovation and delivering useful solutions while building and leading teams of various sizes that are focused on customer service first.
Mike's leadership style is characterized by his ability to inspire and motivate his teams. He believes in fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment, where all team member’s ideas and contributions are valued. His exceptional communication skills enable him to effectively convey his vision and goals to his team, ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards a common objective.
Mike also has a long history of identifying, developing, and coaching new technology leaders to help them discover their inner leadership qualities and become the kind of leader people want to follow. Along with the serving as the Chief Information Officer for Avem Health Partners, he is also the owner and Principal Consultant of Trust Tech, LLC a technology leadership consulting company, where Mike provides leaders of various experience with skills to become better leaders for their teams.
Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in administrative leadership and has continued to expand his knowledge through various professional development programs. He is a lifelong learner, always seeking to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving world.
Outside of work Mike can be found spending time with his wife Melissa and their 7 children, Baylor, Andrew, Gabbie, Olivia, Mikyla, Lucas, and Isaac. Family is very important to him as he firmly believes that in the end a great career is an accomplishment but your job does not kiss you good night, it will never hug you and it definitely will not be there at your side when life comes to a close, so be sure you never lose sight of those that will do all of those things and more.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Mike's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging and most rewarding part of leading is the people. People are what makes the organization what it is, for good and for not so good. Taking on leadership means setting a lot of your personal accomplishments aside and focusing how to make the people you lead successful. The challenging part can be when people get in the way of their own success no matter how much support and help you provide them, but on the flip side when people just get it and are putting the team first, improving themselves or grow into leaders themselves it is so rewarding. There is good and bad in everything, as a leader part of your job is to deal with the bad and promote as much of the good as you can.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I would never say I was a natural leader. I don’t think anyone really is. The truth is at one time I was not even a good follower. I think that is important for people to hear because it drives home the fact that leadership is really about imperfect people stepping up to help other imperfect people succeed. This is important for followers and leaders to understand we are all imperfect and in need of grace and understanding.
I tried early in my career to get into “leadership” roles twice and luckily for me I was passed up for those roles. I was not ready. When someone did choose me for a position to lead a team I made so many mistakes and learned quickly that my job was not to be right, or be the boss, or be the important person. My job is to help my teammates be successful and put them in positions where they could excel. I spent over a decade working in a large healthcare system taking on increased responsibility and learning more about myself as a leader until I was ready for a new challenge. That is when I joined the team at Avem Health Partners to help build something new and helpful for rural healthcare providers.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Structure is a big part of my day. Currently I wake up a little after 5 AM and head out for a workout. That really helps get my day started and clears my mind for the rest of the day. I come back home around 7 AM and help my wife, Melissa get the little kids ready for school while I also get ready for the day. Then off to the office where I listen to a book or podcast during the drive, like most dads do. My day at the office begins with 15-minute morning huddles with each of my teams which serves as our primary communication vehicle and a place where I can find where I can help them with issues they are having. From there each day I might have various project meetings or one on one meetings with team members unless it is a day where I visit one of our hospital clients, then I’m on the road and listening to a book or podcast. I usually bring my lunch which I break for around 11 AM and take a second break around 3 PM which may include a walk around the perimeter of the building. Breaks are important to clear the head space and take a quick recharge, do not skip them. I do leave the office between 5:30 and 6 PM to spend time with my family. If no one has practice, we are at home usually where I can listen to my wife and little kids tell me about their day and pester the teenagers who seem to manage to do “nothing” all day and are always “fine” when I ask them. You really have to keep asking even when you get answers like that. I’m usually headed to bed around 10 PM although my wife would point out that I sometimes fall asleep before that on the couch. Then back at it the next day.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I have to say that I’m constantly reminded of how powerful our egos are and that our ego is usually what trips us up in leadership. If you take the big things that people want to work on improving such as, micromanagement, communication, being more flexible, being humbler, accountability, etc. it is our ego causing our struggles if we dig deep enough. The answer is there within us if we are willing to dig it out and tell ourselves the truth. Leadership really requires keeping your ego in check so that you do not trip over it and prevent yourself from being a great leader.I have to say that I’m constantly reminded of how powerful our egos are and that our ego is usually what trips us up in leadership. If you take the big things that people want to work on improving such as, micromanagement, communication, being more flexible, being humbler, accountability, etc. it is our ego causing our struggles if we dig deep enough. The answer is there within us if we are willing to dig it out and tell ourselves the truth. Leadership really requires keeping your ego in check so that you do not trip over it and prevent yourself from being a great leader.
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?
"I believe my approach to leadership is impacted by many sources some being people I’ve known, some my own experiences, and some from books. If I were to pick a few books that really impact my approach I would say,
1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencoini, which does a great job of breaking down group dynamics and how a group can become a team.
2. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willnk, and Leif Babin. This book covers the overall tools and behaviors needed to lead teams of any size and for any mission. You learn a lot about the ego problem in this book.
3. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. I think people overlook or avoid this book but it is really the guide on how to NOT be a great leader and you need to understand that to see the behaviors to avoid and tendencies to root out of yourself to really excel at leadership.
4. A book that IT leaders should read is The Tao of IT by Craig Dupler. To really understand why IT is the way it is in most organizations and how important it is to realize that IT is a service industry more than anything else. People skills are as important as technical skills at every level of IT.
5. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. You will realize how precious life and relationships are and this book really helps you have a good perspective on that and that we are all humans with hopes, dream, fears and weaknesses that make us up.
Optimism in the light of incredible adversity is also a great message from Morrie. "
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Stop trying to do everything, start listening, start supporting, continue being honest and remember to see where your ego is when you make decisions, give advice or direction. Your team gets all the credit for the great things that happen, and you take all the responsibility for what goes wrong. Always ask, what could I have done differently.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
This question is not easy because we all want to talk about the triumphant examples of being a great leader but that’s not really where you find growth is it. My leadership story comes from early in my career before I really had any thoughts about leadership. I was in my early 20s and worked in a plant that made diesel engine pistons. For some reason I became the point of contact in the shipping area for the plant floor to make sure that we got the correct number of pistons out the door for our largest customer. This made me feel important. The process was that a box of finished pistons would come to the packing floor, and our team our inspect the piston head for defects. Most of our team were contractors with the exception of myself and one other person. If the heads were good, we would add a skirt to the piston and pack both in a special plastic pallet until we had 144 of them.
One day there was an issue in production which meant the pistons would not be ready in time to make the daily shipment. We had to come back later that night when the pistons would be ready and get them out the door to rush them to the customer. When we all arrived, the pistons were not ready, and we went to the manager’s office to find out why. The manager called my boss and explained the situation. My boss then asked to speak with one of our team members and not me. I was not happy and blurted out, “why would he talk to him, he’s just a contractor!” This was right in front this person and everyone else. I was immediately embarrassed and apologized to him, but the damage was done. This may not seem like a big thing but that message conveyed that I was superior to him and that he was not important. Our relationship was not the same after that. I remember that as clear as yesterday because it was embarrassing but also because I learned that day that no matter what our role on the team is or employment status, we are all important to making the team successful. We all deserve respect and sometimes the boss needs to talk to someone other than you no matter how self-important you think you are. Treat everyone with respect and be okay with others taking the lead. You are not more important than the team or the relationships that make that team work.