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Dear friend,

2023 For me personally, was challenging year, (to read more about my patient experience published in the American Journal of Managed Care, click here.) As I end the year, it is always a moment to reflect about the work we do and how to sustain it through what can often be unpredictable times. A sense of community is important in this work, and we’ve certainly seen that in our Disparities Leadership Program and our alumni network. Through this work, I’ve met many colleagues who have inspired me and who are part of my community. As I reflect on their leadership skills that are necessary to move this work forward, and that I try to work on daily, I thought I would share these with you:



While I am fond of the mantra “the devil is in the details”, it is important for leaders to have a vision of the larger goal, how to achieve it, and the ability to communicate this to others. This means being able to be more forward-thinking, ahead of what is current, and the ability to be a risk-taker and get into uncharted territory. To be comfortable in the uncomfortable, and the ability to pivot quickly in response to changing environments. This means steering the work beyond the foundational work of race/ethnicity data collection, and stratification and reporting of metrics, all of which are important. Instead, for example, implement the ability to tag patient safety reports with bias and discrimination and review what is currently happening in real-time in your organization.


Relationship Builder

Relationships are key in this work because the work is often unfunded or has limited funds. This means you may not have the funds to buy someone’s time when you collaborate, or to support initiatives with resources. At the end of the day, the ability to connect with patients and work colleagues on a personal level is the glue that holds this work together. How often have we stepped in or gone the extra mile because of a relationship that we have with someone? A cornerstone of this skill is the ability to make a person feel listened to, seen, and valued.



Character to me means the things you do even when no one is looking, or when there is no reward/personal gain, or public acknowledgment. It is the core of who you are. Character helps build credibility, and it means walking the talk. For example, it is very easy to talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion, and to be a strong advocate for diversity in the workplace. But likely a better measure of how much you walk the talk is who is in your circle of friends or family, and whether they include people from a different demographics, socioeconomic backgrounds, or cultures.



Lately, with all the emphasis on hybrid schedules and meetings, a good definition of “presence” seems elusive. But presence still matters, and there is something about a leader’s in-person presence and its influence that still can’t be transcended virtually, especially in a healthcare institution where many clinicians don’t have the option to work remotely. The most engaging and powerful leaders whom I’ve met know the value of this and the message of accessibility it projects.



This work is hard. Period. But I think none of us would be doing this if, at our core, we weren’t hopeful that this will result in better care for everyone. Great leaders know how to balance both a realistic perspective with a big dose of hope, and how to communicate this and inspire those working with them.  

In closing, I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year spent with loved ones and those who recharge you. See you in 2024!


Aswita Tan-McGrory, MBA, MSPH


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