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Leading with Purpose: In Conversation with Leadership Award Winner Iris Lee

October 16, 2023
Iris Lee

The VHA leadership awards is an annual recognition program to further build and strengthen VHA’s culture of leadership excellence by recognizing individuals at all levels who demonstrate impactful leadership.

Iris Lee, HR Technology & Workforce Analytics Business Partner, is a Leadership Award recipient in the Leading with Purpose category. Awardees in this category are trailblazers who look for continuous improvements of our processes, innovative ways to deliver spectacular care, and bring a solution focused mindset to problems. As one nomination for Iris shares, “I always think of Iris as the backbone of VHA’s HR team, but really I feel like without her presence, leadership, and expertise, many of our projects at VHA wouldn’t be possible. Iris always gives her 1000% in everything that she does.”

We sat down with Iris to hear more about her approach to leadership and her journey at VHA so far.

VHA: You’ve been selected in the category “Leading with Purpose.” Congratulations! What does leading with purpose mean to you? 

Iris: To me, leading with purpose means being solution-focused when working through problems and always striving for continuous improvement, innovations and efficiencies in day-to-day tasks, practices and processes not just for myself, but also for my teammates, colleagues and VHA.

What motivates you to do the work that you do?

No matter how big or small a task or initiative I am working on is, I always see if I can learn something new and that is a great motivator. I am also inspired by VHA’s vision, mission and core beliefs and that motivates me in my work and connections with VHA colleagues.

Could you tell us about an achievement, inside or outside of work, that you’re proud of? 

A personal achievement that I am really proud of is receiving my Honours Bachelor’s degree from York University after changing majors and schools. I started my undergraduate studies in a major that I found out I did not really enjoy and ended up majoring in Public Policy and Management. It was through my studies at York that introduced me to the Human Resources field and here I am working in the HR department at VHA 😊.

When you look back on your journey at VHA so far, is there a moment or situation that stands out where you learned something that changed your perspective? This can be anything- big or small! 

Years ago, I was working on a huge task in collaboration with another team that was time-sensitive and impacted a large number of colleagues. I initially approached this task as if I was going through a “checklist” to help that team out. However, it became clear to me very quickly that there was no one-size-fits-all solution and I had to be solution-focused and fully present to be able to come up with solutions that accounted for different scenarios and deadlines. Working on this task really changed my perspective on how I approach my work and how I connect and collaborate with other colleagues.

There’s no doubt that a huge part of being a leader is teamwork. Do you have any advice for how to build that connection and trust?

Being able to actively listen and be fully present with teammates and colleagues when answering their inquiries or collaborating with them on initiatives/projects are great ways to build connections and trust. Providing consistent updates/communications and willingness to answer questions from teammates and colleagues are also other great ways to build those positive connections and trust.

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