Progressive Home Health & Hospice
What is your leadership style? I would say my leadership style is consensus leadership. When making decisions, I prefer to empower staff to give their input since they are close to the problem that needs solving. But I tend to be intense, so there is a limit. Our staff knows there are high standards and high expectations. I push my team to do more, be more and to strive for excellence by taking personal responsibility and being accountable. Ultimately this benefits our clients and also the staff.
When did you first feel like a leader? Looking back, I think I was born a leader being the first born in our family of seven. Throughout my schooling, I would find myself in leadership roles. But when we started our organization, Progressive Home Health & Hospice, in 1995, I needed to step up into a formal leadership position.
Who are your mentors and how have they influenced your career? My greatest mentor was my grandmother Dorcus Kahaki, who taught me perseverance and how to love God. Others include my high school headmistress, Mrs. Ngaruiya, who taught me discipline; my boss at my first Home Health job, Linda Grey, who modeled a small business start-up; Hesston College director of nursing program Bonnie Sowers, who mirrored nursing professionalism and how to strive for excellence in patient care; and John Maxwell, who taught me how to be an effective leader by valuing and add value to others.
What are you doing to mentor women in your industry? As an immigrant, I have an opportunity to mentor my fellow immigrants and model nursing professionalism and business ownership. I also sponsor Global Youth Initiative annually, a leadership conference for youth here in Wichita. I also host the Live 2 Lead conference annually, a John Maxwell simulcast leadership conference here in Wichita and in my hometown of Nakuru, Kenya. I have a global group of women I mentor through Leadership Smart Strategies. I also serve in various advisory boards and boards of directors.
Best advice for young women considering your industry? A nursing degree is of great value. The demand for nurses continues to rise and the health-care sector is so diverse that one can literally change their career every few years as a nurse. Practicing direct patient care in the hospital, nursing home, assisted living or home health or even hospice, to management of those organizations, to starting your own practice like a medical SPA, to sales of medical products like prosthetics, pharmaceuticals, to legal nurses that work in various capacity either for the patients or insurance companies, to the education sector. A nursing career will provide a lifelong income and career satisfaction.
What female leaders do you admire? Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female president on the African continent and 24th president of Liberia. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 and she has demonstrated hard work, commitment, good governance and integrity. She has advocated for women’s rights, stressed the value in education as a means to end poverty, and to drive economic development. Also Sheryl Sandberg with her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” Finally, women — especially single mothers — that have the audacity to dream, strive to start a small business, and work tirelessly to make it a success.
What was your career path? I started as a Banker for Barclays Bank of Kenya after I graduated high school. Three years later, I migrated to North America, did various odd jobs but settled in as a certified nurse’s assistant until I graduated from nursing school. My professional career as a registered nurse started at St. Francis Hospital, then Riverside Hospital and home health care before starting our healthcare business in 1995.
What inspired you to choose a career in health care? My dream was to become a medical doctor, but it became clear to me it was not achievable in my financial situation. My second option was nursing, so I went for it.
What do you like most about your job? What I do now. I enjoy being a part of a caring team working together to make a difference for our clients at their time of need as they struggle with major illnesses. We work to also support their families and their loved ones to help them cope and have peace of mind. My role as a leader is to create that sense of urgency, the tension that keep the standards of care and the level excellence a top priority.
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