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November 30, 2023 | 30 Mins Read

 What I’ve Learned About Leadership Through My Breast Cancer Journey

November 30, 2023 | 30 Mins Read

 What I’ve Learned About Leadership Through My Breast Cancer Journey


Sarah welcomes back Linda Tucci, Senior Global Director, Technical Solutions Center, QuidelOrtho, for a vulnerable and inspiring conversation around how she’s navigated a breast cancer diagnosis while continuing to show up as a leader.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. I'm really excited for today's conversation. I think it's going to be an act of vulnerability in practice, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for my guest today, which is Linda Tucci, Senior Global Director of Technical Solutions at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. Linda, welcome back to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Linda Tucci: Thanks so much. Happy to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: Happy to have you. Linda was on the podcast. I was looking back, Linda, it was actually episode 83 and we're in the 240s now.

Linda Tucci: Wow.

Sarah Nicastro: It's been a while. What's interesting is our topic in episode 83 was around the importance of mental health in leadership. Here we are, a while later, see kind of an aspect of that same topic, right? I am so glad to have you here and be talking with you today.

I want to let everyone know, Linda and I, I have the good fortune of interacting with a lot of wonderful people, but you meet these people that you just click with and you stay in touch with, maybe not frequently, but certainly over years and years. Linda and I caught up, not too long ago, just as friends. When I asked you about doing this podcast, I was sure to say, "Don't feel obligated."

I am not in any way trying to exploit your personal challenges for the benefit of the podcast, rather, you were commenting on all of the lessons you've learned through the journey that we're going to talk about today. I thought, not only might it be cathartic or empowering for you to share some of those, but I absolutely know that it will be beneficial for others to hear as well. Thank you for trusting me here and for sharing with us.

What we're going to talk about today is what Linda has learned about leadership through her breast cancer journey. There's a whole lot to talk about, and we're going to get into all of it, but before we get into the personal stuff, there's also been a lot of change in the professional side of your life and with ortho. Let's first just talk about that and give people the background of your leadership role, your history in that regard, and then we'll go through that.

Linda Tucci: Sure. Perfect. Thanks again for the platform, even preparing for today and thinking through in itself. Truly lessons learned was cathartic in itself, so look forward to always in our conversations. Just to give our listening audience background, I've started my career as a medical technologist and worked in multiple labs, and I really enjoyed being a med tech. I see them as unsung heroes within our medical landscape.

I moved over to the medical device industry for working for manufacturers of the instruments themselves. All of my roles, past 20 plus years have been in the service side, whether the contact center environment, field service. Now, I'm responsible here globally for remote technical support. We provide technical support to customers using our instrumentation, escalation support to field engineers. I've always enjoyed being in a service for all.

I would say from a work perspective, in just last year about May, Quidel purchased Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, becoming QuidelOrtho. By nature of integration, there was a lot going on at work. It's interesting, if I rewind a bit leading up to that time period in 2020, we were all dealing with COVID, my mom passed, I had an emergency appendectomy, I bought a new house, I moved, and it was just when I felt things were getting, I'm going to say almost acclimated to the new normal, we started an integration and I get diagnosed with cancer and I was stopped in my tracks.

For me, not only as I started to educate myself, I would say the one thing I knew, and having already done some research on breast cancer, is that what I didn't want was triple negative breast cancer because it's trickier to treat. Of course, that's how things unfolded.

Now, we all react to news in a different way, but for me, as someone who leans towards, I would even say I am a self-confessed control freak, it was really hard because I had to accept I had no control. One of the things that was important for me to not only educate myself, but to say, what can I control? For me, that was what went in my body, on my body, how I move my body, and in just to ensure that I was nurturing the spiritual side of my mind and how I showed up in the world became more important than ever in my life. Does that make sense?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, yeah. It definitely makes sense, but I mean, that's a tremendous amount of not only change, but objective stress all at once. It's interesting because we didn't prepare for this part of the conversation, we don't necessarily need to talk about all of this, but I think it's really interesting to me how glib sometimes people can be in the comments that they make. I can imagine you had people that say like, "Well, your health is the most important thing, just focus on you." Absolutely, but if you are many people, you're relying on your job for your health coverage.

People say these things, but it isn't quite so easy to separate them out into these buckets and to just say, "My body is in crisis right now and I need to just focus on fighting this one thing." You still have to handle all of those other layers, and it's a lot of compound things going on at once. I can imagine tremendously hard.

Also, I was kind of smiling to myself because I understand, I identify with being a control freak. When you and I caught up a while ago, I shared with you also that I went through a similar exercise in realizing how little we really do control when my son was diagnosed with type one diabetes, because I can't fix that, I can't change that, but I have a feeling you probably jumped right into, "Well, I can't control this thing, so what can I control?"

To your point, I'm going to start doing the research, I'm going to start learning everything I can, et cetera. I think I can only imagine what you've been through trying to juggle all of that, because like I said, it's easy for someone to say, well just focus on you, but in a lot of ways when you're an adult in the world, it's not quite that simple.

I guess, is there anything you could share about how you have balanced things? I'm sure it's been imperfectly, but knowing that a lot of people end up in situations where they do have to juggle these competing challenges, priorities, regardless of what they are, how have you tried to take care of yourself while still taking care of the things that you need to take care of?

Linda Tucci: That's a great question. I could answer in a lot of different ways. First, top of mind, I'll say, in making reference to what I could control and nurturing that spiritual side of me, I think there's two things, just thinking about would've really popped out by lessons learned in this journey. That's one, the importance of the present moment. Also, secondarily to me, is the value of suffering.

We could talk about mindfulness for hours in "Eckhart Tolle, The Power Of Now," and even my own, I'm going to say personal spiritual formation when I was young, really focused on the present moment, but I had the natural grace to embrace it in a very different way almost on steroids. Do you know what I mean? By practicing, being in the moment and doing what I could to be truly present, I'll be honest with you, it's now become so habitual for me to really say, how do I want to show up in this moment?

In this moment, nothing is more important than having this conversation with you and what a joy. I have found that by creating a habit of focusing on the present moment has not only reduced my tendency towards any anxiety, but also has just naturally enriched my sense of gratitude and that in itself, had a positive impact on my life.

I even say that when I look at this world today, there's so much that we could say, but I think we've lost sight of the value of suffering in itself. When you are hit with something such as a diagnosis of cancer, it causes our focus to look inward. There's many ways that you can react to that.

I am just saying for me and the way that I'm wired, I'm blessed because that became okay, how do I want to show up? How can I help others through this journey, because you can read Suffering Leads To Wisdom, while I can't say I've become wiser, I've learned lessons that have, I'm going to say, created a greater sense of wisdom in me. Do you know what I mean?

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm.

Linda Tucci: I think I'm just beginning to really unpack how this has impacted me. I've going through this journey where there've been moments that have been very painful, but to come out to the other side and to see the degree of resilience, sense of humor that just naturally has even emerged more so. I'm not sure if I fully answered your question.

Sarah Nicastro: No, that makes sense. I have a couple things going through my head. When you were talking about focusing on the present moment, I was reflecting on how important that is in so many areas of our lives and how a lot of our angst can be self-inflicted by getting away from the right now. Do you know what I mean?

Linda Tucci: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Whether that's personal life or professional life, I mean, for most people, I think they all blend together. It's oftentimes when you are the most anxious, it's because you're looking so many steps ahead instead of, so if you think about it, work-wise, what do I need to do right now? If I do the next right thing all the time, I'll look back and see that I was going on the right path.

That's not to say we don't need to strategize or be forward thinking in any way, but a lot of times, we're trying to jump through all of these moments of growth and learning to whatever the outcome is. I think same in our personal lives, it's when I feel the most overwhelmed, it's because I'm thinking about things that are really relevant to today or this moment.

I also was thinking of something I read or heard not too long ago, and unfortunately, I don't remember where, but I'm curious your thoughts, if you don't mind me just adding in a curve ball, which is, I remember the point, like I said, I don't remember who it was or if I heard it on a podcast or read it in a book, but it was talking about how oftentimes the hardest things we'll face in our lives, the anticipation is worse than the experience itself.

Not that the experience itself isn't so hard, but once you start going through it, to your point, you're kind of forced to do so moment by moment where the anticipation, you're thinking about the whole big thing. I just wondered if you feel there's any truth to that for you of in your experience, what that's felt like?

Linda Tucci: It totally resonates with me and those lessons of staying in the present, there are some aspects of just even my treatment between the chemo and other aspects of my surgery that were, if I knew what was going to happen to me, maybe well in advance, the anxiety can shoot up.

Now, what I'll say that the resilience that I've built in, even if I know and I do want to know things in advance, I'm not one of those people, "Don't tell me. I don't want it in my head." It doesn't bother me. I know how to control so that I don't allow my mind to spiral out of control, but I place it with the, "I know it's going to happen. It's going to happen at this timeframe. Let me go back into the present moment," because if I lose my joy in the present, there's all this good stuff you lose, and the worry is not going to add value.

What I have found also, and I think you alluded to in the prior question, which I didn't fully answer, was balancing everything because I started really focusing on say, what matters most. Now, to your point, of course, practically work, I need my healthcare coverage, but I also get great joy from work. A lot of my best friends are at work.

There's the element of compartmentalizing, whereas now's the time for me and also lessons learned that I had to say goodbye to some unhealthy relationships I've had with work and that it's okay. I would say on this journey, I think it's not the natural tendency, because I mean, we could just read a newspaper, well, actually are there even newspapers today? We could listen to a YouTube, what's happening in the world, you could easily get overwhelmed.

What I see is the great beauty in the world and the amazing people that I'm surrounded by. I choose joy. I choose happiness. Regardless of how things have unfolded, like I mentioned to you, and I'm comfortable sharing, even though this is really getting transparent, my chemo didn't work. When I got that, I was expecting, "I'm going to do this. I'm going to do this. Check, check, check, and I'm going to get the big prize at the end." That didn't happen. I had a pause, which was almost overwhelming. I was like, "Well, wait a minute. I didn't think this was going to happen."

It was really interesting for me, and it actually took me a while to really dive into that and say, "Huh, are you really committed to the present moment? What have you learned?" I'll be honest with you, that moment of almost devastation, or I can't call it despair, I would call it depression, became a springboard for me.

Then, I realized, well, the reality is I've got this little thing hanging over my head with a high potential recurrence of cancer, but it has made me see the world differently with fresh eyes, with new eyes and I think that's made me a better person to be blunt.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. When we think about how these huge changes within yourself and these lessons you're learning really, and then you're doing it all in real time because you're still showing up every day, which is just incredible, but when you think about how those lessons have changed you as a leader in your professional life, what are the points you would say stand out to you the most of show you show up differently as a result of this journey?

Linda Tucci: It is interesting. It makes me think of a story or a moment in time, as I was preparing and looking at what I could control. I told the people at work that I think I needed to or who deserved to know before it became more publicly known.

One of the things that I knew is that I would lose my hair, which was not a problem for me. Some people have a hard time with that. I didn't at all. I just knew that I wanted to control it. As soon as I started losing my hair, I shaved my head proactively because to me, it was empowering. I think people around me freaked out because I was like, "Don't worry about it."

I went to a salon. They never saw me before. "Hey, can you shave my head? Don't worry about it. I got cancer. It's okay." Do you know what I mean? They wanted to be really solemn. I was like, "Hey, I got a conference call in half an hour. Let's move it."

Sarah Nicastro: Can you speed it up? No, seriously, you're just shaving it. I don't need a style, just zzzz let's go. Yup.

Linda Tucci: I had prepared and looked for a wig that looked like my hair because I wasn't ready to go out in public and have people know. I went to a wig specialist and they got me all these wigs that just didn't look like me. Well, the funny part of the story is that I found a wig called disco on a clearance frack that looked just like my messy hair. I started wearing that and people for six weeks until I really then publicly came out of the closet, so to speak, and they're like, "Wow, you lost your hair."

Some people started treating me differently. I was actually, "Isn't this interesting?" Even the ones that knew I had cancer, but something about visually. Now, thankfully, I have a beautiful scalp, by the way. I wasn't freaked out when I shaved my head, but I was the same person. For me, I talk a lot about meeting people where they are, and it really hit me. We don't all wear our wounds externally.

Now, clearly, I'm very comfortable speaking about my experience and not just how I process. I love sharing and hearing from others and learning from our respective journeys, but if I truly want to meet people where they are, I have to make sure that I ask good questions, that I don't jump to assumptions, that I am really looking at them holistically, especially in my roles at work. I would say it takes work. For me, compassion being a core value, it's more important than ever that are my words and actions aligned.

The leaders that I found most inspirational have been the ones that are the most relatable. They're able to share their stories so that connection's made, that what they say has meaning or relevance to me, and that I can count on them. They're trustworthy. For me, even more so, I really reflect on that. How am I showing up at work and am I validating with others? Is this how you're experiencing me?

I would say, what may have worked for me in the past, doesn't work in this virtual world we find ourselves in. I would say that we or those who want to be experienced as leaders have to put the work in. This journey for me has impacted everything because that reflection takes time, but I'm committed to it.

I would even say I'm giving more time to being reflective to say what in the work environment has the most value? Who can I fire from my life, so to speak, because it's a brain drain as opposed to a value add, what meetings and I've done, I continue to do a cleansing of sorts.

Sarah Nicastro: I like that. I shared a couple of days ago on a customer community group I was running that, I was at a conference a few weeks ago, and I was talking to this woman from Electrolux that I presented with, and we were just chatting about a lot of different things, but she was sharing that she had recently incorporated this practice where on a weekly basis, on Fridays, she writes about one thing that's given her energy throughout the week...

Linda Tucci: Nice.

Sarah Nicastro: ... and one thing that's taken her energy throughout the week. Then, she can reflect on those things and determine how to do more of one less of the other. I think that's a great sort of process, and going through something like what you're going through, just really emphasizes the importance of not wasting your energy on things that are just not valuable to you, not enjoyable to you and not necessary.

One of the things that I loved is when we chatted about this, you mentioned that pre all of this, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think even pre-COVID, which changed everything for a lot of people, you said that you would always conduct a practice of reframing your leadership every other year or so. Then, obviously, this experience and the collection of experiences over the last few years have led you to maybe do so more frequently.

I just think I love that idea. I think it's something that a lot of people could value from hearing more about, because quite frankly, I think there are leaders in place that haven't reframed their leadership ever, let alone at any regular interval. I'm just wondering if you could speak to one...

Linda Tucci: Sure.

Sarah Nicastro: ... the importance of that, but two, anything about what does that process look like for you?

Linda Tucci: Cool. Well, the genesis of that was 20 years ago, I had an opportunity. I applied to become this head of service at a small company I was at. I thought I was the obvious choice. Maybe I was a little cocky back then, and yes, guilty as charge, but thankfully, I knew enough to go around and start asking, "Why do you believe I'm not being selected? What could I be doing differently or why do people not see me in the role?"

I'm so grateful to that younger version of myself that I responded to the feedback. While the specifics don't matter, it was as simple as there was a critical initiative happening where I had an impact to. I took that feedback and I said, "You know what? I'm going to show up differently." Within a matter of 72 hours, I was promoted.

Sarah Nicastro: Wow.

Linda Tucci: I was like, "Wow." Now, I'm an adult well into my career at the time and thinking if I really ask for tough feedback and I commit to change, and I focus on leveraging my strengths and realizing some areas of weakness may never be able to be developed because I'm so lacking, how do I mitigate that gap, I can actually be more impactful in the world. I'm thinking like, "Well, I'm going to do this all the time."

What I started over time, is every year I redid my resume so that I was reflecting on how I show up on a piece of paper, but I would also ask others for feedback, and especially from people that I knew would tell me the truth, even if I didn't want to hear it. I would also talk to people who I know did not either, I'm going to say, appreciate my style or who I would have found myself in most conflict.

I think this exercise of just saying, "What strengths will I continue to shine or continue to build on?" There are some gaps in my skillset, I'm never going to be able to fill, nor do I need to, but what I found is little different tools and a couple of things.

One is DDI, the global consulting firm, I think back in 2010 at least, that's when I remember that coming across their global leadership forecast survey. I loved it, which is a global survey, and it really talks about leadership today and what is needed for the future.

Every time that survey comes out, since then, since 2020, I'm like, "Yay, I have to now stop and I have to pause," and I have to look and say, "Anything in my leadership arena that I need to work on," I actually, I could be a poster child for them. I should send them a note of thanks, because I actually believe it's been extremely impactful.

One year when they were talking about how we live in this world of VUCA, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and just the skills that we needed five years earlier, are no longer those same priority. I reacted to that or even now, I love the fact that 2023 survey that came out March, I think end of Q1, talked about the importance of self-reflection because trust is being eroded in the workplace. Leaders have to look at how they're being experienced. I'm like, "I could have written this survey myself."

Now, the other thing too, and this comes from Bob Kelleher who has a employee engagement firm out of Boston, and we talked about always doing stay interviews. We always have these exit interviews, but we don't interview people while they stay. I would consciously say to myself, "Why am I staying here?" Do you know what I mean?

Going through that, I think has enriched my professional development and also allowed me to stop focusing on things that I just know are never going to improve. You know what? That's okay. It's about being self-aware enough to say because I have this gap, I need to plan to mitigate it.

Sarah Nicastro: Right and realizing that leadership today doesn't mean you're, I mean, I think there's this old school version of the leader as the controller of all things, the smartest person in the room, you have to know everything, et cetera. I mean, leadership today is you have to be a lot more humble. You need to accept the fact that you're probably not always the smartest person in the room, and that's okay. You don't have to know everything. You just have to be able to bring together talent and lead well.

I think that's really interesting, and I love that it's a combination, your reflection process of your own experiences, the people closest to you that you're working with, but also looking at these trends and analyzing what's going on in the rest of the world so that you're not staying too narrow in your own day to day. I love that.

The other thing we talked about, Linda, is needing to pull back on some of the things you were doing to conserve energy for this personal journey that you're on. I remember actually the first podcast we did together, we talked about when you went through your mom passing and you needed to get better, asking for what you need and saying what your truth is, and not being ashamed of that or feeling you need to apologize for it. I'm just curious how you did that through this journey. How did you continue to ask for what you need to look for the things that you could let go of too?

Linda Tucci: It is interesting because I just think especially being in a service role my entire career, it's so often that we default to, yes. I earlier mentioned looking at those relationships that I could remove from my professional life and actually even personal people that were not enriching me or my experience. Then, also saying, "Well, what can I provide to my organization," that a little bit more rigor around governance was something we identified. It's not perfect yet, but we've been working on it.

Then, also too, delegating in a way that I could be okay with allowing things to crumble and really not, it's my own ego that would want to go in with my mighty mouse move and save the day, but to let it go as long as there were lessons to be learned from that and that it was okay. For me, that was really a lesson to understand that the importance for me is to make sure the organization is sustainable, has a clear vision, and is resilient in the event of failure. I think I realized that in a new way that felt liberating and perfection is just unachievable. What is good enough?

Then, I would also say that there's the aspects that I think might've been unhealthy in my relationship to work. I do think that I can blame my parents for this, or I can thank my parents for this, as a child of immigrants, I just have a work ethic that's off the charts.

For me, it's acknowledging my own humanity that for me, my own mortality, I had no choice. I had to focus on myself, not only so that I could live and grow and be healthier, but also too that it was okay that I could let go because my team, I learned through this process that not only is my team great, they're exemplary. Do you know what I mean?

When given challenges, true characters forged through adversity, my team is just awesome. The days that I am the weakest link in the chain, they carry me. Do you know what I mean?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think we talked about, I remember this being a big point in our conversation because we were talking about how today, empowerment is such an important leadership skill because we want talent not just to be doing what we say to do, but to be making those choices, taking ownership and learning how to do things in their own way and how this experience sort of, not that you don't, I think you already knew the importance of that, but there's a difference between knowing it's important and embracing it halfheartedly, but still being there to be like, "Okay, but blah, blah, blah."

Then, really knowing you have to let go because you just can't be as involved as you were before. Then, seeing like, "Oh my gosh, they might not have done it the way I would do it, but they did a fantastic job." That's empowering for them. It's freeing for you. I think it's a good point in the sense of taking the talent you have and leaning into them a bit more because it's a great growth opportunity for them. It's a good way for leaders to kind of refocus their efforts on things that require that energy instead of things that people are willing to lean on them for. That's interesting.

We also talked about the acute awareness of the need for empathy, vulnerability, authenticity, and kindness. These are traits that I would use to describe you always, but I know that they have become even more important to you and also helping bring them out in other people. I guess, what comments do you have on where do you think leadership is today in embracing those traits?

Linda Tucci: Interesting. I would say my own personal experience. I've always been told, and I think I'm just a naturally compassionate person, and I'm not afraid of being vulnerable, and I actually think it's one of my superpowers, to be honest with you. I'm a big Brene Brown fan, and she who highlights the value and vulnerability is courage.

Personally, my experience has been even when I thought maybe there's a line or does it make sense to share, I'm going to say, a personal flaw even, I've only had positive outcomes from that because then people, when you model that behavior and you create an environment that's safe, it triggers the courage and the others to act the same. I think when you talk about leadership in that space of compassion and authenticity, and it's more important, I believe than ever, it's always been important. It's more important than ever.

I've been reading, well, I think I'm reading five books at once, which is one of the problems that I have, but Gallup's Blind Spot: The Global Rise of Unhappiness and How Leaders Missed It or something like that. We have this epidemic, this hidden epidemic of unhappiness. We spend so much time at work, I think it becomes increasingly important as leaders, what's the environment that we want to create and how do we model that behavior?

I think there's, when you give clarity and you set ground rules that you are modeling the behavior, I always say to my team, mutual respect is the price of admission to our team. If people are out of bounds, we call them out on, "By the way, I am human and I'm Italian, so I can say crazy stuff," but then you self-correct? I assume good intent, but I think if you want to be experienced as a leader, then you have to say, "How am I impacting the other?" You can either drain them or you can inspire them, and I choose the latter.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that's part of who you are. I think one of the things that's really interesting to me about these traits right now is empathy, vulnerability, they've almost become buzzwords to the extent of people know they're important, but I think authenticity to me is where there's a distinct difference between using empathy and vulnerability to your benefit versus being authentic in using them because it's part of who you are and because you care and because, you know what I mean? Not that there isn't also benefit, right?

Linda Tucci: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I guess, to your point, it comes from that intent. Are you trying to check a box on these things because you think it'll help you get a certain outcome or are you doing, are you leaning into these things because you know that they're important as human beings? Does that make sense?

Linda Tucci: Well, totally. I like the definition of leadership where we talk about influence, inspiring, helping others to achieve their goals, build their skillset. I think sometimes people try to act what they think authentic means, and then it's the opposite. Like, stop doing that. I've seen people maybe even, and I believe it's a compliment, try to maybe mimic my style.

Well, it's me. Do you, don't do me, because you have to be true to yourself and your core values, and it's an area too. I find it interesting when I ask people, "Well, what are your values? What are important?" They can't answer. I'm like, "How can you not answer?" Then, you don't know how to live authentically because that means being true to your core beliefs, et cetera.

When people say to me, "Well, I want to be a leader," and then you get down, you realize no, they want more money or they just want a title. When asked, I tell people, "I want to be experienced as a leader so that I can inspire people, influence them, bring them together around common purpose, marry a passion and purpose so that people feel valued." Did I help people bring their best self?

It reminds me of a book that really impacted me, Liz Wiseman, love her. She's so inspiring. Her book, The Multipliers, she says, "How the best leaders make everyone around them smart." Whereas, also too, you can be an accidental diminisher. You could diminish others. What do you choose to do? You already said it, right? We're not always the smartest person in the room. Sometimes, we may just think we are, but we're not, right?

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm.

Linda Tucci: Do you multiply the smarts of the folks around you? That's something that resonated with me when I read that book and remains with me today, because sometimes, because I know this may shock you, I have many annoying habits, and because I process out loud, you know what I mean? I'll have to, it drives people crazy, but I know the form by which I'll say, "Hey, do you mind if I process out loud because that's," you know what I mean? To make sure that I don't derail unintentionally. Anyways, I went around in a circle. I'm not even sure if I answered the question.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, no, you did. I think the other point that you made is especially related to the world of service, is an important one to just think about, which is, are we promoting people into leadership roles as a reward for being a strong individual contributor, or because they want a promotion, or because they want more money, and that's the easiest path to give it to them, or because they have the capability and want to be leaders, because I think part of the problem with those who are not very effective, is they maybe weren't really built for that, and they were then put into these positions that they're not strong in because it was the next right path, not because it fit them as people.

We talked about how all of these reflections that you've had, and the course correcting your own leadership style has made you think about leadership as a whole and what it even really means today. I know nobody has all the answers, but would you mind sharing what your view is today?

Linda Tucci: Yeah, I think I'll just build on even what was just stated. One, I think when we do see or uncover folks that may have been promoted to a role not well suited, we need to move faster because we're dealing with people. I get frustrated when we move too slow in that arena, and I've been guilty of that myself, but sometimes more damage can happen.

At the end of the day, it's better for the person to be placed appropriately because if indeed, we want leaders to be able to inspire others and able to align so that you can execute on strategy that have to be effective, I think you have, I would say, at least in my circles and talking across the medical device community, we're all having similar struggles.

I think it's commonplace turnover. People reframing what their purpose is or what they see, passion and purpose post-COVID or what's important to me may have been different. Your leaders have to grow concurrent with the changing environment. I think that that just doesn't happen naturally.

Even if you were very effective in a time and place, if it doesn't happen naturally in your organization, which I actually think organizations are severely lacking in how they look at leadership development itself, that's why I highly encourage people to look inward at their own impact as a leader. I think that whole EQ piece in the equation is more important than ever before.

At the end of the day, we all have our different styles, but we need to show up and know what we're good at, what we're not good at, in order to be able to be effective and not play a, it's not an act. I'm in my leader role. Do you know what I mean? Show up and be who you are. By the way, if it's a jerk, please leave. You know what I mean?

I always tell people, you know what? Don't wait for the promotion. Don't wait for the title. Lead from where you are. Well, that doesn't mean, learn the skill of leading through influence. Learn the skill, really bringing people together, moving and helping. I always say, "Make your boss look good." Do you know what I mean? That's actually a good career move because that takes you out of yourself, but also brings you aligned to a common goal, and that can be healthy for the organization. It's a journey.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, for sure. Speaking of journeys, I know yours has been challenging and a lot of growth, a lot of learnings. We obviously wouldn't wish a cancer journey on anyone, but I guess, closing thought, what's anything we haven't touched on or anything you would just want to reinforce to people through this journey that you're on that you would want to impart if people are open to listening?

Linda Tucci: Sure, sure. Yeah. Maybe it's kind of like summation, the first thing that comes to mind when you say that is that first step for me is that if you haven't built a solid support system, you need to work on it. It doesn't mean your hundreds of acquaintances or friends about who are those people that are going to carry you? Who are those people are going to sustain you? Who are those people going to tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it? That's the number one thing that is necessary.

I say, secondarily, clearly, it's a theme in this conversation, the importance of self-awareness. I can say because of the good habits that I've established for years, and I'm still learning all the time, it's allowed me to see this experience as a learning journey and embrace it. There've been moments where I've fought a degree of depression and we talked about that, but they've been fleeting and I can honestly say, not one moment have I been bitter or really experienced despair, and I'm blessed by that.

You can't define yourself by work or an illness, it's just part of you as the whole. For me, there's the aspect of really get to know who you are, what's important, what you should be working on, what you should be letting go of. You know what I mean? I think that's important. I would ask a simple question, probably, do you complain more than you contribute? If you do, go back and get a support system that's going to tell you the truth so that you can go back and work on it.

Something that's just been part of this for me is that what would your thoughts be on your deathbed? Do you know what matters most to you? What your core values are? We've talked about what does living authentically really mean, but you have to do the work. You know what I mean? If not, go back and get a support system who will tell you the truth, right?

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm.

Linda Tucci: Anyways.

Sarah Nicastro: I appreciate it so much. Linda, you're an inspiration today and back on episode 83 and every day to come. I am so thankful for you and honored that you would come here and have this discussion with me and with our audience. Thank you so much for sharing the lessons you've learned, sharing yourself authentically with us. It's an honor.

Linda Tucci: Thank you so much, and I want to thank you for this opportunity and also allowing me this forum to share my story. I would just say a final thought on those who may be listening, fighting the same battle, you're not alone. Have courage, and I can say that I'm praying for you every day.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you so much, Linda. Really appreciate that. If you want to go back and listen to Linda and I's first conversation, it's episode 83. You can find it at The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.