Have you been questioning your purpose at work or in your career? Are you looking for ways to discover your purpose?
Understanding your purpose isn’t like an instant pack of noodles where you instantly get the outcome – it’s an ongoing, lifelong process. There may be some chores that might come along with it, but there are also be moments of joy, worth cheering. It is a journey, so don’t expect the right answer instantly. Are you ready to learn more about this journey of finding your purpose?
LeAnne Andersen is the Chair of Human Resources (HR) and People Services for Mayo Clinic. She is a strategic HR leader, trusted advisor, and vital participant in business planning and executing best practices. She is responsible for the oversight, evolution, and administration of Mayo Clinic’s People Services, including Payroll and Timekeeping Services, HR Service Center (HR Connect), HR Advisory, Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Talent Acquisition, Credentialing, Global Mobility, and Compliance.
In this episode, LeAnne shares the important value of experience and using opportunities to developing a clearer understanding of what your purpose is. She also talks about the different strengths and learnings that you can apply in your journey such as the importance of asking questions and the amazing power of curiosity.
What you will learn from this episode:
Discover the importance of looking for ways and taking opportunities can help you get a clearer vision of your purpose
Learn more on how you can accept the chores and enjoy the cheers of your career
Understand why you should shift your perspective from wanting to have the right answer instantly to being curious about finding the right answer
“Getting and knowing your purpose is an ongoing process.”
– LeAnne Andersen
02:40 – LeAnne shares what her role is in her work: I help take care of the people that take care of others that are in their most critical need and help and change the world when we think about science and healthcare
03:49 – Getting a clearer understanding of her purpose as time goes by: One of the main reasons why LeAnne loves her role in
05:07 – One of the aspects that LeAnne doesn’t like about her job is the cheers and chores that come with it
06:51 – The differences and similarities of LeAnne’s role now to before that has helped contribute to her growth and discovery of her purpose: Let’s start with the similarities. So, the first thing is, when I look back at my career, there is absolutely an element of similarity in some of the aspects. And it’s that word “transformation”. I really find and look for ways and opportunities to take something that’s good and make it even better.
10:47 – Has the different work environment and diverse culture from the different roles LeAnne has played greatly contributed to her getting a clear meaning of her purpose and her work ethic?
14:28 – LeAnne’s strengths and interests that drove her to transform: My, probably, strength, first is curiosity. I tend to be interested in how things work. And for me that’s played strongly in transformation, played strongly in my role, how does that process work? How does it play out?
18:36 – One of the challenges and obstacles LeAnne faced in achieving her career goals is balancing her work, life, and family and processing things both personally and professionally
20:52 – LeAnne’s advice for her 30-year-old self and for young professionals: You know, I’ll probably look at myself, Sarah, smile, you know, say, “You know, you’re going to be okay. And just relax and have fun.” I think we early on get so wound up in feeling like we need to have the answers. And I think it probably plays through all the comments I had. It’s about finding them. Enjoy the journey.
“You find every day, every interaction, whether it’s personally or professionally, I have a chance to play forward and live that purpose.” -LeAnne Andersen
“I really find and look for ways and opportunities to take something that’s good and make it even better. And in doing that you have the opportunity to change the business.” -LeAnne Andersen
“What you do has to be relevant in the context of what’s happening around you.” -LeAnne Andersen
“I’m more curious about finding the right answer than feeling that I have to have the right answer.” -LeAnne Andersen
“Give up some of the feelings of it has to be so masterfully figured out and refined. It is just kind of what it is. You tweak it if you don’t like it. You can adjust it a little bit.” -LeAnne Andersen
Ways to Connect with LeAnne Andersen:
Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown
Full Episode Transcript:
LeAnne Andersen 0:00
I’m more curious about finding the right answer than feeling that I have to have the right answer.
Sarah E. Brown 0:14
Hello, everyone. Welcome to The KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women where we talk about challenges senior female leaders face in being happy and successful at work. I’m your host, Dr. Sarah E. Brown.
Sarah E. Brown 0:33
My guest today is LeAnne Andersen. She is Chair of Human Resources People Services for Mayo Clinic. In that role, she is a strategic HR leader, trusted advisor, and vital participant in business planning and executing best practices. Mayo Clinic inspires hope and promotes health through integrated clinical practice, education, and research. With a vision of transforming medicine to connect and cure as the global authority in the care of serious or complex diseases, it is renowned for putting the needs of the patient first. Mayo operates a worldwide network of hospital systems with destination medical centers in Rochester, Minnesota, Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Florida. Mayo Clinic employs 63,000 people, including more than 4,500 physicians and scientists and 58,400 administrative and allied health staff. Before joining Mayo, LeAnne held various leadership roles at Kaiser Permanente, Best Buy, and Target, with emphasis on domestic and global business transformation, human resources, supply chain optimization, process improvement, and a commitment to external partnerships. LeAnne also has extensive non-profit experience serving on the board of Make-A-Wish and Christian Heritage. And I am delighted that I have known her for many, many years. So, LeAnne, welcome!
LeAnne Andersen 2:27
Thanks, Sarah. It’s great to be with you today.
Sarah E. Brown 2:30
So, tell us a little bit more about your role at Mayo with 63,000 employees. Tell me what your role encompasses?
LeAnne Andersen 2:40
You know, I think the best way to say it is I help take care of the people that take care of others that are in their most critical need and help them change the world when we think about science and healthcare. And the way that we provide hope to individuals that they’re, kind of, their most critical needs and their families, as well. So, I run a suite of services. In many ways, the leaders of Mayo Clinic are my clients. I manage everything from payroll to global mobility to talent acquisition, and that workforce that you talked about. The employees, the physicians, and our residents interact with me and my team every single day to help them manage great big, full lives, as well as take care of their responsibilities as employees and managers.
Sarah E. Brown 3:26
So, when I think about Mayo, I think that the idea of providing hope when someone has a serious illness is exactly what I think of Mayo. And it’s sort of like you’re providing hope to the people that are providing hope. And I just think that is so cool! What is it that you love most about the role you’re in?
LeAnne Andersen 3:49
Exactly what you just said! So, I think if I look back at my career, and we can talk more about that, along my journey, I became really clear. The purpose that I find and, kind of, expound to try to create every day is creating moments that help take care of people, that let them pay it forward. And I’ve been on this journey for a while. I’m getting more and more crystal clear on what that looks like. And in that career path, you kind of find a roadmap that doors open up, and when you understand what you want to do with your life, you find yourself in unique and fabulous positions to do it. And so, I actually just passed my one-year anniversary at Mayo Clinic. But I’ve had this opportunity and been kind of focused on it for the last 10 to 15 years. And in doing so you find every day, every interaction, whether it’s personally or professionally, I have a chance to play forward and live that purpose.
Sarah E. Brown 4:48
And isn’t it great when you have a purpose in what you do? And it’s tied to the organizational mission. I think that’s really cool. But is there any- I want to get to your career path in a minute, but is there any aspect of the job that you’re in now that you don’t like? And if so, how do you deal with that?
LeAnne Andersen 5:07
There are! You know, I, jokingly, sometimes, refer to things as “cheers and chores”. There’s a lot that I enjoy, but there are absolutely some chores that go along with it. You know, one thing that I’ll tell you that sometimes will frustrate me is, that I’m wired in the way in which my experience brings insight and curiosity about how things work. And there are certain times when I feel like I can see something coming in the future that’s a risk or a concern to delivering excellent service. And I will struggle with how do I articulate that? And what does that look like, and are others ready to hear it? And so probably the biggest thing that sometimes gets in my way is impatience. And a lot of time that has to do with kind of strategic planning and road mapping. So, I love strategic planning. I love the road mapping that goes along with it. But at times it is gaining and the amount of efforgy– effort and energy, it takes to gain alignment to that direction, sometimes that impatience can make me feel like it’s a waste of time.
Sarah E. Brown 6:13
But it comes from the wisdom that has been gained through years and years of experience?
LeAnne Andersen 6:18
You are absolutely correct.
Sarah E. Brown 6:20
And I think it is really, really cool that you’re able to use those years and years of experience now. And when I knew you at Best Buy when we were working together, that’s what you were focused on was that road mapping that we’re talking about? And, really getting all of the ducks in a row around a huge transformation. How does your current role compare similarly? Or how does it differ from that?
LeAnne Andersen 6:51
Well, let’s start with the similarities. So, the first thing is, when I look back at my career, there is absolutely an element of similarity in some of the aspects. And it’s that word “transformation”. I really find and look for ways and opportunities to take something that’s good and make it even better. And in doing that you have the opportunity to change the business. I really tend to focus on how do you make things more efficient and affordable? How do you make a bigger impact? And how do you drive value for the organization? So that’s kind of the business aspect that goes along with it. The similarity that’s also there is the experience that you provide to individuals during it. How do you create an opportunity for them to be at their best? And I love that, kind of, that head and that heart disposition of the roles that I have found myself in. And that is absolutely similar to what I’m doing today at Mayo Clinic, compared to what I did at Best Buy and other parts of my career as well. You know, I think the one thing ties back to your comment about the experience that you bring, and this is one thing that I’ve seen and I have to always be aware of. And I actually love it because it provides a unique dynamic that it doesn’t feel like I’m just kind of rinsing and repeating each different career step in my professional world, it is taking into consideration the cultural differences of each of those organizations. So, you think about Best Buy, I mean a large retailer, quarterly driven for-profit organization, at the time it was worldwide. And then you take Kaiser Permanente, and all of sudden you have a non-profit, completely different industry moving from retail to healthcare. A large organization, and a couple of 100,000 employees, and very regionally driven. So, Kaiser is very focused on community health, and what that looks like. And then the shift to Mayo, the culture and context are getting different. It’s really focused on patients that have three different shields that come together, where you have patient, research, and education working collaboratively together on how they actually meet the needs of the patients and back into a different geographical footprint as well. So, each company has provided me the opportunity to use a lot of the skills and experience that I’ve created. But it’s important for me always, as a leader, to remember the context is very different, even as you think about a timeline of moving from doing similar work 10 years ago to today. It’s different post-pandemic. It’s different with a remote workforce. You have a great resignation happening right now. So, what you do has to be relevant to what’s happening around you. So, the experience, I think, sometimes, I see leaders say, “I’ve done it once before I can do it again in my next job” and it’s just kind of a replay. And I think for me what’s fascinating because I just enjoy inventing and creating because there’s always newness that goes along with it as well. So, your questions absolutely continue to be focused on transformation, my current role, like Best Buy, but it’s in a completely different culture and a different context than I had at Best Buy.
Sarah E. Brown 10:12
So, the common denominator in all of these roles is transformation and road mapping for the benefit of the employees. I get that. And the thing that’s been different in those roles is the context.
LeAnne Andersen 10:27
You got it! Absolutely.
Sarah E. Brown 10:28
So, as you thought about those, you’ve experienced a wide range of these cultures. And I wonder if that has informed your own understanding of yourself and what cultures work best for you? Or what kinds of work environments work best for you?
LeAnne Andersen 10:47
Yeah, it absolutely has. And I think there are moments, and I’ll tell you one thing that’s interesting about healthcare, it’s kind of, maybe a fun story. You know when you’re back in high school, all those ages ago, and stuff like that, you would take vocational assessments. And the vocational assessment, even back then was always, “I should be a nurse. I should do something around care.” Here’s the hard part, I have a phobia about blood. And I’m like, “That is not my career path. That is not where I’m going to go.” But it’s interesting to kind of reflect back and say, “Well, that wasn’t my career destination. I truly respect individuals that do that work.” But there was a caring spirit that went along with it. You know, switching from retail to healthcare, wasn’t a change I probably sought out. I didn’t wake up and say, “You know what, I want to go into health care.” But at the time I made that change, I knew I was at a place within my own personal life, where I was interested in doing something different. And my mom was also battling cancer, had been battling cancer, and eventually lost her battle. But we were actually- she’s being treated at MD Anderson. And I remember one day, she’d been through a rough series of treatments, etc. And I was there with my family, and I dozed off on a couch while she was getting treated at one point in time. And one of the assistants that was there, not a healthcare provider itself, but somebody that was a support staff, actually brought me a warm blanket and covered me up but it kind of jolted me awake a little bit. And at that moment, it kind of hit me. And remember, I, at that time, had spent, you know, 10 to 15 years thinking about culture and context and fitting in what was right for me. And it was just such a pivotal moment that they had one minute, you know, one minute to show kind of that kind gesture. And I had, through my MBA and different activities, become more and more clear that there’s something magic about moments for me. And so, thinking about the shift from Best Buy to Kaiser Permanente, Kaiser called, they said, “Hey, we’re interested”, I kind of chuckled and said, “Well, I’ll just see what they have to say.” But it was the personal experience, as well as a professional opportunity that said it was time for a change. And there are no regrets at all in making that change because it continued to help me fulfill kind of the full life of everything that I was experiencing, learning, and doing, and having a chance to kind of create those moments. So, I think you know, Sarah, as you think about how you choose the highlights, and how you move through your career, for me, even at this stage in my career, I continue to get clearer and clearer on purpose. And it plays a large part in what gets me up and keeps me going back to work even when there are things that can be tough and frustrating and difficult. You go back to that sense of commitment and the choice that you made.
Sarah E. Brown 13:58
That’s a great story. And I love the fact that you’re highlighting that getting clear about purpose is an ongoing process. It’s not generally one-and-done. How would you describe- you’ve talked about the fact that one of the elements in your career path has been a focus on transformation and loving that and loving the mapping out of the journey and the like, but how would you describe your interests and your strength?
LeAnne Andersen 14:28
You know, I think part of it is as leaders were all challenged to get clear on what they are and know that they shift when they evolve. My, probably, strength, first is curiosity. I tend to be interested in how things work. And for me that’s played strongly in transformation, played strongly in my role, how does that process work? How does it play out? What are we actually trying to accomplish with it? And then, the other thing that curiosity brings for me is I’m more curious about finding the right answer than feeling that I have to have the right answer. It can seem a little unorthodox, but I think sometimes leaders jump in and say that “I’ve got to know the answer.” To me, I am that curiosity that plays through. It’s a quest. It’s a conscious adventure of how do you look at that? The other thing that I would tell you is probably a strength. And this one, I did not start with. This one, absolutely, I needed to evolve, was being willing to challenge my own mindset. You can become, and I did this recently with a leader I was working with, where they said, “You know, this is working great.” And I said, “Have you asked somebody that’s actually receiving service from that?” And they stopped at the moment, and they’re like, “No, but everything I’m looking at says it should be working right.” And I said, “Let’s just go ask! Let’s just go find.” And I think that’s an example of the curiosity and willingness to actually even stop your own mindset or your own thoughts. Probably a better way to say it, and say, “Am I sure I’m right? I don’t know.” And I think in that, the authenticity to kind of question yourself, and being okay with it. I once did an assessment, and they joke with me and said there’s a courageous authenticity. If I’m not sure about something I’m pretty comfortable asking. And that did not start. It kind of came with confidence, career growth, testing it, trying it once or twice, and realizing that I wasn’t judged for asking the question. I was actually recognized in many cases for asking the question and saying, “Is there a different way to think about it?” So, I think the curiosity, the willingness to kind of question your own mindset, and then the last one I would throw out there that is kind of a new evolving term, but I think is a strength I possess is creating kind of “psychological safety”. And never probably knew what it was called until some of the more recent information is actually being created about the term “psychological safety”. But making it okay for people to be vulnerable, share what they’re thinking about, and where they need help. And also, being able to do and demonstrate that myself. When you do that, I think it brings better ideas forward, welcomes people, it curates a tone of authenticity, as well as inclusiveness, which I think leads to better results.
Sarah E. Brown 17:28
Curiosity, challenging your own mindset, and creating psychological safety. And I love the catchphrase “Finding the right answer, as opposed to having the right answer.” That’s an incredibly powerful point of view. And it would shift your perspective and everything that you look at.
LeAnne Andersen 17:48
I had a boss that said that to me many times along my growth journey. And, usually, when I was at my most frustrating moments, and I go in, and I would vent and they’d look at me and say, “You know, what if you’re not right?” and I’m like, “Oh, dang it. Let me go figure it out.” So, they tapped into that early with me, and it’s interesting how I’ve seen it play with others as well.
Sarah E. Brown 18:10
Well, it’s a very empowering way to look at it. And it certainly creates a perspective of upfront collaboration when you go in with that mindset. That’s a keeper there. So, LeAnne, what obstacles to achieving your career goals were most obvious to you in your career? And what have you done about that? How have you navigated that?
LeAnne Andersen 18:36
You know, I think, as a woman leader, we all kind of have to battle at a point in time in our career, how to have it off, you know, the life, the family, the balance. And so, I will tell you balance is probably one thing that I have found challenging. A little bit of it is how I’m wired. My mind tends to constantly run. And I’m constantly processing things, both personally and professionally, and wondering how to make it all fit together. And along the way, there were times when I was critical of myself. You know, am I spending enough time with my family? Am I getting enough balance? Am I where I need to be? Is my career moving at the pace I want it to move? And that can take a toll. It can add stress, and frustration and, maybe, at times, didn’t always leave me being my best. And along the way, I needed to get comfortable with “This is my life. It all fits together. It’s what I say it is. The balance is, how it works and I can make the decisions.” But give up some of the feelings of it has to be so masterfully figured out and refined. It is just kind of what it is. You tweak it if you don’t like it. You can adjust it a little bit. And there’s this constant tinkering to find the right balance. And for me, it probably ties back to that question, that curiosity. You know, what’s it going to feel like if I get up an hour earlier and choose to do this and to test and try some things? We learned early on in my life, that I’m wired. I like to get stuff done. And on Saturday mornings, my family did not like that at all. So, we figured out, that I can get up and get all my to-dos done, or whatever, by 10 am. And I was a much better mom and family member. And so, I think you just need to tinker and find and be okay with finding your balance that works for your personal situation.
Sarah E. Brown 20:34
That’s another great story. So, I probably know the answer to this, but just for clarity, I’m going to ask it anyway. What advice would you give your 30-year-old self now, knowing what you know now, with the wisdom of 2020 hindsight?
LeAnne Andersen 20:52
You know, I’ll probably look at myself, Sarah, smile, you know, say, “You know, you’re going to be okay. And just relax and have fun.” I think we early on get so wound up in feeling like we need to have the answers. And I think it probably plays through all the comments I had. It’s about finding them. Enjoy the journey. And so, you know, just kind of synthesize it, relax, have fun and enjoy the journey. It’s going to be okay. That would probably be the advice I’d give my younger self.
Sarah E. Brown 21:26
And would you give that same advice to another young career professional right now?
LeAnne Andersen 21:31
I do. And I have. Occasionally they look at me, like “Really?” and I, you know, tend to say, “Trust me, it’s going to be okay.” And it’s interesting how you’d ask for that advice. And sometimes it’s on the personal side. Sometimes it’s on the professional side. Sometimes it’s people trying to balance that. But I truly feel if you make that commitment to figuring it out, and not getting so wrapped up along the journey, everything will be fine.
Sarah E. Brown 21:59
So here are the things that I’m going to take away from this conversation. One is, is there cheers and chores, and you sort of have to accept the chores and enjoy the cheers. The second is, is having a perspective of finding the right answer as opposed to having the right answer. It’s a much better frame of reference for doing anything, frankly. And the third and final one is if we relax and enjoy the journey, it’s probably all going to work out okay. Did I get that right?
LeAnne Andersen 22:31
I think you just described me in a nutshell, or at least who I am today!
Sarah E. Brown 22:35
There we go. LeAnne, thank you so much for being with me today!
LeAnne Andersen 22:38
Thanks, Sarah. I really appreciate it.
Sarah E. Brown 22:41
Thanks for listening to The KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. If you like what you’re hearing, please go to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. And if you would like more information on how we can help women in your organization to thrive, then go to www.sarahebrown.com. You can sign up for our newsletter, read show notes and learn more about our podcast guests. Read my blog, browse through the books or contact us for a chat. Goodbye for now.