Carol Alexander, OD, FAAO, Head, North America Professional Relations at Johnson & Johnson Vision, was recently a guest on the WO Voices podcast series. She spoke with Women In Optometry editor Marjolijn Bijlefeld about leadership. Dr. Alexander believes that while some individuals are born with the talent and skills it takes to be a great leader, others can be made into strong leaders when the right circumstances present themselves and when previous experiences can open doors to new opportunities.
Through your leadership and advocacy, you can give a voice to important issues that will impact your patients. Dr. Alexander says that legislators—and the aides who are working alongside them to understand all of the details—rely on the expertise of professionals such as doctors whom they have connected with as they make decisions in the community.
To get involved or to make your connections more meaningful, Dr. Alexander says to consider taking these steps.
Join your state association. Your support as a member is important, as this is the body that manages the legislative work in your state.
Volunteer. It's about more than paying the dues. To make moves, you must give your time to the causes and committees that are meaningful to you.
Be smart about what you say and what you do. Only volunteer when you plan to say yes and give 100 percent. Remember that your actions will develop into your reputation. Avoid giving a quick yes; instead, say, "Let me get back to you." Fully understand commitments you will need to make. When you need to say no, give context to keep doors open for future opportunities.
Build a support system for balance. Turn to those who understand why these efforts are important to you. Take note of busy times and slower seasons in the advocacy calendar. If it becomes overwhelming, step back and reevaluate to make time for yourself.
Dr. Alexander says that there will always be challenge and opportunity on the horizon in the procession. "You will practice in the place that is a product of your action or inaction," Dr. Alexander said. Regardless of whether you step or not, changes will still occur. If you are not a part of the movement, shaping what the outcome will be, you will be left to react to what others created for you.
Click here to listen to the full WO Voices podcast with Dr. Alexander.