Working together to lead the way

By Chris Bent, SVP and Chief Operating Officer

July 26, 2022

We often have the impression that advancing and leading in your career requires striking out on one’s own and leaving others behind as you trailblaze ahead.

In my opinion, this could not be further from the truth. Nor is it an effective approach for individuals or organizations. We live and work in communities. None of us can move forward without the help, guidance and expertise of each other. As I’ve moved through my own career, I’ve developed a leadership philosophy that centers on well-being and health: I believe that teams that are supportive, curious, and take care of themselves and each other are better equipped to create and lead transformative change.

And transformative change is central to our work at Prime. We’re uniquely equipped to help improve the health and lives of the people we serve. And we can also create a transformative experience for each other.

My challenge to every Prime employee? To foster an environment of sponsorship.

The term sponsorship may make you think of corporate-funded initiatives or ads. But what I’m talking about is a relationship that drives professional and personal success.

Where mentorship typically involves a hierarchical relationship focused on someone providing guidance or advice to a more junior employee, sponsorship is making a personal investment in another person. It is looking out for your team members, advocating for opportunities where they can learn and grow and cheering each other on, celebrating success along the way.

I am confident that we have a culture where sponsorship can flourish. In fact, one of my earliest sponsors is now our CEO, Ken Paulus. Long before we both found ourselves at Prime, Ken hired me for one of my first jobs. And even after we moved on to other organizations, he continued to act as my sponsor: checking in and recommending opportunities throughout my career where I could stretch and focus on my passions.

I have worked to pay this sponsorship forward, whether serving as a faculty advisor for Master of Health Administration graduate students at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, or volunteering with the Women’s Health Leadership Trust.

Each of us has something to offer to help support and build each other up. I see many of you doing this so well today. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to do this I encourage you to think about how you can embed an attitude of sponsorship into your day-to-day work. You all have something to give. You can recommend a colleague for an open position on your team. Offer a stretch assignment to someone you know who’s eager for a challenge. Or congratulate someone on a successful presentation.

I’m reminded of the adage “if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” I look forward to seeing what we can all accomplish next as we cheer each other on.

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