Leadership Wisdom from Norine Yukon

At the beginning of October, I had the pleasure of hearing Norine Yukon speak at the Concordia University Speaker Series. Norine Yukon is the CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas, the second largest health insurance provider in the state. Her early career as a caseworker and registered nurse led her to become interested in health care policy and the allocation of health care resources. Joining UHC in 1987, she became an expert on the managed care industry where she grew as a leader in healthcare and in business.  The conversation with Norine at Concordia’s Speaker Series event focused on her story as a female leader in what is typically a “man’s world,” her path to becoming CEO, and how she is able to balance her multiple vocations as wife, mother, community leader, and CEO.

I recognize that I am, and will always be, on a journey to learn how to lead. Learning from other leaders who are willing to share their wisdom and experiences is vital to my growth. At the end of Norine’s speech, she offered to meet 1-on-1 with anyone in the audience who was interested in having a more in-depth conversation with her. Yesterday Norine was gracious enough to spend some time with me. Today’s blog highlights the key leadership lessons that Norine shared:

  • “No money, no mission!” Regardless of whether you’re in the for-profit or non-profit world, your budget matters. Money is required to achieve your mission, and the leader always must have her eye on the revenue clock.
  • “Leadership is not just about getting people to follow you. It’s getting people to follow themselves. It’s getting them to lead themselves.” This idea really resonated with me and aligned with everything I believe about leadership. In order to lead others, first and foremost you need to lead yourself. You must know who you are and what goals you are working toward. The best leaders remain focused on their own leadership growth and development, recognizing that they must take responsonsibility for their leadership.
  • “Moments of balance are fleeting.” Hearing this important reminder from Norine was so helpful. I see evidence constantly through my interactions with women in the SOS Gr8 Women Leaders Program that many women leaders are striving to find “the perfect balance,” believing that such a state exists. Norine’s words of wisdom resonated with me, as I continue to understand that striving for perfection doesn’t serve me well as a leader. It leaves me feeling defeated, rather than empowered.
  • “BE HERE NOW.” Last, but certainly not least, Norine and I chatted about the challenge of being fully present, especially when you have an overflowing to do list. I shared a story with her about my 6-year old insisting that I wasn’t listening to her and how much I continue to learn about my areas for leadership growth from my very vocal children. Norine showed me the words “BE HERE NOW,” which are found on her desk, a constant reminder to be where you are right now. One of the most powerful gifts a leader can give is the gift of her presence, and I need to work toward being more fully present wherever I am.
If you want to read more leadership wisdom from Norine Yukon, head on over to the Texas Conference for Women blog and check out this interview.
I am grateful to Norine for generously sharing her insights at the Concordia Speaker Series event and yesterday during our conversation. The world needs more leaders like Norine. I aspire to be a leader of her caliber.

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