Building Leaders for the Future of Cardiology

Like Rome, leaders are not built in a day. They are honed, molded and shaped through a variety of rich leadership, educational and mentoring experiences throughout their career. In the past year, the ACC’s emphasis on leadership development has become stronger than ever.

Cardiology Magazine Spring 2015

In an effort to prepare and develop the next generation of cardiovascular leaders, the College has made a commitment to enhance leadership skills as part of its five-year Strategic Plan. Whether it is at the commencement of an ACC member’s career as a Fellow-in-Training (FIT), an early career member, or as a seasoned professional reaching retirement, the College continues to create robust leadership development programs to support the enhancement of its members’ leadership skills.

Leadership Development  for the Leaders of Tomorrow

In order to effectively develop leadership programming aligned to the distinct needs of FIT and early career professionals, the ACC gathered baseline qualitative and quantitative data surrounding the specific challenges of this demographic. According to the findings, there is a greater need and a growing appetite for increased leadership development programming and support.

Thus the ACC’s Leadership Academy was born. Created in order to grow the ACC’s leaders of tomorrow by providing leadership development to early career leaders today, the program launched in January 2014 with an inaugural group of 14 early career members. The program addresses critical leadership skills needed in today’s environment, enhances leadership experience within the ACC, and provides an opportunity to advance strategic priorities of the College in such a way that also grows leadership competency and development.

The curriculum is designed around specific leadership needs and development areas derived from a targeted needs assessment conducted at the start of the program. Once data were analyzed, the selected early career members convened in Washington, DC, during ACC.14 to review the baseline leadership needs findings, share collective challenges and hear from William A. Zoghbi, MD, MACC, a past president of the ACC, about leadership development, balancing family and work, and being an authentic leader.

Members then launched a peer-to-peer mentoring structure to work on a singular leadership goal. “This created a stronger bond and connection within the group and allowed for off-line discussions within an environment of shared challenges and opportunities,” said ACC staff member Rosanne Nelson who helped design and launch the program. Individual coaching sessions followed, as did work to analyze and learn from leadership case studies derived from the Leadership Academy members’ personal experiences and challenges. At the ACC’s Legislative Conference in the fall of 2014, then-ACC President Patrick T. O’Gara, MD, MACC, spoke to the group, reflecting on his leadership experiences and professional growth.

Up next for the group was a 360-degree assessment process for each member to assess their emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence competencies, like self-awareness, self-management, relationship management and social awareness, are critical skills to hone as leaders,” said Nelson. “We instituted one-to-one coaching to be sure each member received feedback regarding their data report to dive into potential leadership blind-spots and growth areas.”

The group convened this past January to review the findings and identified clear areas of strength such as empathy, alongside key development areas, such as managing conflict. Programming for the Leadership Academy at ACC.15 included a session on managing conflict, which touched on best practices like compromise and collaboration, through lectures and a real-time role-play scenario. Following the session, members were tasked with applying their learnings in their respective institutions.

The final activity of the inaugural Leadership Academy group is focused on two primary areas: mentoring and a capstone project. Each member has been paired with a current or former leader of the College to serve as their mentor. With the guidance of their mentor, each Leadership Academy member has been charged with determining a capstone project that is meaningful to them, while also aligned with a strategic objective of the College. The findings will be presented during ACC.16 in Chicago and will officially conclude the activities of the first Leadership Academy group.

“The Leadership Academy has been a fantastic experience,” said Matthew D. Solomon, MD, FACC. “It has fostered my personal and professional growth and has been pivotal in helping me advance toward my professional goals.”

“We look forward to watching these rising stars continue to lead with authenticity and dedication,” adds Nelson, who will begin activities for a second Leadership Academy group at ACC.16.

Local Leaders Taking Shape

This year, the College has also expanded leadership development for its newly minted local leaders – the College’s Board of Governors (BOG). Derived from the vision and experience of the ACC’s BOG Chair Robert Shor, MD, FACC, a new BOG mentoring program was officially launched at ACC.15. “My personal experience led me to believe how important [a mentoring] program will be for an incoming governor,” said Shor. “I felt that my continued participation [in the ACC] was related to the exposure I had to enthusiastic leaders within the College. It was infectious. I want to ensure that we set up a process that sustains this type of support and pays it forward each year.”

This “pay-it-forward” mentoring program is designed to support first-year governors by providing guidance and tools to ensure each governor is effective as a communicator and a leader for their state Chapter. The program provides support and educational opportunities to help these new governors lead their state successfully, while also building enthusiasm for continued participation in the College for past governors.

With the intention to further develop communication skills within the College’s state leaders, at ACC.15, Shor introduced a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment, and a corresponding leadership session around the findings for all members of the BOG and their respective Chapter executives. The session focused on understanding one’s self and one’s natural communication style, while also exploring a leader’s natural tendencies, and respective communication styles as a function of effective leadership.

“Since governors are in their roles for several years, we hope that these efforts help them quickly become effective leaders,” adds Shor.

Emerging International Leaders

In addition to developing leaders domestically, the ACC is highly committed to developing leaders around the globe. To that end, the College, with sponsorship exclusively from Boehringer-Ingelheim, launched the International Leadership Training Program with its first event at ACC’s “Heart House” headquarters in Washington, DC, in December 2014. Led by faculty members Anthony N. DeMaria, MD, MACC, and Zoghbi, the program brought together 30 delegates from around the globe for one-day intensive leadership training. The program focused on the qualities of being an effective leader, the importance of team building, and everyday issues future leaders will face. Attendees learned the traits of different leadership styles and tools needed to successfully lead, while also sharing the challenges in their respective countries.

“The program was extremely successful and brought together emerging leaders from around the world; and we have maintained contact with the participants via a monthly newsletter,” said Zoghbi. “At ACC.15 in San Diego, we held a follow-up session on how to successfully influence others as a leader. It too was a tremendous success and the attendees are indeed a shining example of leadership around the globe.”           

The Future of ACC’s Commitment  to Building Leaders

In order to ensure awareness and alignment of leadership programming for the future of the College, the ACC is working closely across core areas of its Strategic Plan to leverage solutions and programmatic ideas that will directly affect participants in its leadership development programs. Programs like the ACC’s Emerging Faculty Program combine goals from multiple focus areas of the ACC’s Strategic Plan, including member value and engagement, and purposeful education. Held this past fall in Washington, DC – and bi-annually since 2005 – the program is a day-long workshop and promotes the development of skills, such as effective individual presentations, teaching, program design and communication, for clinician educators who are committed to contributing to the College’s mission of education and to facilitating the transfer of knowledge into their professional environment. This education has been extended to a wider audience of educators, and invited presenters at ACC.15 were provided with links to online learning modules that emphasized skills such as embedding interactivity and optimizing presentations through humor and engagement. Graduates of the Emerging Faculty Program also furthered their training with personal evaluations of their own presentations at ACC.15 and by evaluating other presentations. The Emerging Faculty Program is made possible by funding contributions from the Michael Wolk Foundation.

The College remains committed to leadership development at a local, national and international level. As the ACC continues its charge to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health, a strong foundation of leaders is critical to help the College accomplish its mission and to provide value to its members as they become effective leaders in their communities.

Keywords: Cardiology Magazine, ACC Publications, Cooperative Behavior, Demography, Follow-Up Studies, Leadership, Mentha, Mentors, Needs Assessment, Personality Assessment, Personality Inventory, Program Development

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