There's a personal side to being a leader. Just because someone holds a fancy title doesn't mean he or she is equipped to lead.
As a matter of fact, some of the biggest jerks I know have impressive titles but, because of arrogance and stupidity, are insensitive to the needs of those they lead. While their days -- thankfully -- are numbered, they already have created havoc within their organizations. It happens in the business world all the time.
In Search of Physician Leadership, a new book edited by Barbara LeTourneau, M.D., and Wesley Curry, made a big impression on me because it tackles the personal aspects of leadership.
The editors enlisted leading healthcare authorities to offer their insights on topics ranging from physician executive development and education to how to link physician and nonphysician roles in the managed-care era. As a result, the book does a thorough job of exploring all the intricacies, ambiguities and contradictions of physician involvement in healthcare leadership.
LeTourneau is vice president of medical affairs for the Northern region of Allina Health System, Fridley, Minn. She also is president of the American College of Physician Executives. Curry has been with the college for 13 years; at present he serves as its managing editor of book publishing.
Their book, published by Health Administration Press, a Chicago-based division of the American College of Healthcare Executives, is a refreshing, worthwhile read.
An especially compelling chapter on trust was written by Kenneth Cummings, M.D., executive vice president of physician integration and services at Carondelet Health in Kansas City, Mo. In "Building Trust in Contentious Times," he cites the three cornerstones to building trust in relationships: integrity, capability and character. Without them, he says, trust is impossible.
"Trust," he writes, "is a defining ingredient in all human relationships. Whether the trust level is zero or total, it defines exactly how the persons involved will view and deal with one another. And, although trust is essentially a one-on-one commodity, it has group overtones, especially in organizations. How individuals relate one-on-one combines within an organization to determine how individuals and groups of individuals view the trust element of their relationship to the organization."
Mark Doyne, M.D., vice president of medical affairs for Curative Health Services in East Setauket, N.Y., offers useful advice for newly hired physician executives. He says they must understand the background and historical perspective of the position they assume. "If it is a new position, why has it been established and what are the critical questions?" he writes. "If the role has been reengineered, again, why?" In short, Doyne instructs readers to do their homework thoroughly when taking physician executive roles in any organization. Avoiding surprises can make the difference between success and failure.
Too many books on leadership rely on academic jargon to make their points. I find them clumsy and almost unreadable -- as if they were written to confuse rather than clarify. In Search of Physician Leadership is both readable and practical.
It simply makes sense, Charles S. Lauer Publisher