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Edward Marx
Chief Information Officer
University Hospitals
Cleveland


Edward Marx, chief information officer of University Hospitals in Cleveland, believes in the power of mentoring. Every other year for the past 11 years, he’s asked a different organizational leader he respects and admires to commit to 12 months of helping him grow. In 2002, his mentor was University’s chief financial officer. He met with the chief executive officer in 2004 and worked with the chief operating officer this year. He’s already lined up the chief medical officer to be his guide in 2008. Marx, who’s been CIO for three and a half years, says the fear of asking someone to be a mentor is a high hurdle, but the rewards are worth the leap.

Marx: One is too small a number for greatness. Leaders need to seek the input of others. You can’t get to the highest level if you rely on yourself. Having a mentor multiplies your success and your effectiveness.

I look for someone who’s advanced past where I am, who has integrity and who has a good life balance. I also seek people who are willing to invest in others.

Since I’m asking for someone’s time, I feel I owe it to them to be organized and specific. I use a one-page contract that says how long the relationship will last, defines the rules of engagement, sets out three areas of focus, and puts all the logistical details on one page. It gives everyone a good comfort level.

We meet once a month for an hour, and I can call or e-mail with questions anytime something can’t wait for the meeting. I work with the preference of my particular mentor, but breakfast meetings tend to work best—before people get busy and you risk getting bumped.

I keep a running list of things I learn, then at the end of the year, I present the list to my mentor and tell them I appreciate the investment they’ve made.

—Kara Olsen