Imaging director shares thoughts on leadership, obtains educational milestone to better serve patients, colleagues

danfelix2When Dan Felix received his high school diploma, he couldn’t have been more pleased to be done with school.

The young man couldn’t have envisioned then that he’d be in school for a long time over the course of his career. Felix, who was promoted to director in 2014 over X-ray, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, mammography, CT-scan and MRI, started his master’s program in leadership in 2016, recently completing it.

We caught up with him for a few questions.

What inspired you to go back to school?

There are three reasons. TMC has given me this leadership opportunity so it was really important to me to perform at the level of my peers. My colleagues are a talented group and I respect them for their intelligence, attention to detail and preparation.

Secondly, my team deserves a leader who is committed enough to leadership to undergo formal training. And more so, patients deserve to be cared for by a team with well-prepared leaders.

The third reason was for my kids. I have two young daughters, one is going to be in seventh grade and the other in ninth, so setting that example is important to me.

You have a demanding job already. There must be a number of working professionals out there who are weighing going back to school and trying to figure out how to balance it all.

It was extremely difficult because not only was I balancing the pressures of work, I’m also a volunteer athletic coach for kids, and a husband and father. All of that takes a lot of time. I managed by 30-minute blocks every day: 30 minutes to eat, 30 minutes to read, 30 minutes for school. But I’ve always believed the body and mind are capable of more than we think and will meet any challenge.

Now that you’re finished, you have some of those 30-minute slots reopening. What are you going to do with that time?

The joke is I will get my golf game back. But what I believe and hope I will do with my time is to help others by passing along the skills and knowledge that I’ve learned, whether it’s here with people at work, with the team members I coach or with the parents of those students.

Did any of the content change your leadership approach?

As time went on as I developed my leadership skills at TMC and as I was presented with a variety of challenges and personalities, I often found myself tailoring my approach in order to achieve the best outcome.  That’s when I had my big “aha” moment in leadership training.

This tailoring of my approach is actually referred to as “situational leadership.”  Our jobs as leaders is to use different approaches based on the needs of the employees or situations – not necessarily what’s most comfortable for the leader.

And there lies the beauty of leadership. A good leader will recognize when there is time to carefully analyze certain situations and have thoughtful discussions such as process improvements vs. when it’s important to take control and act quickly.

Any practical tips leaders can try right away with their teams?

The biggest thing for me was reaffirming how important it is for leaders to be good listeners. I have a good relationship with my team so it was easy for me to say, “Here’s what I learned. Let’s give it a try and see if it helps us improve our work together.”

The one thing we really worked on was making sure we heard each other. If you’re already talking before I finished my sentence, that’s a good sign that you’re not listening. So we’ve been very conscious of waiting until we’re done speaking, taking the time to process what we’ve heard and then reply back. It’s led to more efficient conversations because there’s more confidence that we don’t have to repeat key points.

It also reinforced the importance of learning the management styles of members of my team, making sure we hold each other accountable with detailed action plans and making sure we all have clarity on our current and future states. The whiteboard in my office is heavily used.

You probably had learned a great deal through mistakes and successes in practice already – so why school?

It gave me a chance to think deeply about leadership and how my management style lines up with documented leadership theories. It was affirmation that I’m taking the right approach and it gave me confidence that I was connecting the dots.

TMC supported my goals through its tuition reimbursement program and I am grateful that TMC’s leadership has always encouraged continuing education. There are a lot of opportunities to advance if you put in the work and are accountable for that work.

 

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