ACC Approves Transformational Changes to Its Governance Structure

Straight Talk | Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, ACC President

Leadership is not for the faint of heart.

In a well-known Harvard Business Review article, author and psychologist Daniel Goleman, PhD, wrote that the best leaders have five key traits: 1) self-awareness; 2) self-regulation; 3) motivation; 4) empathy; and 5) social skill. Dr. Goleman noted that leaders with these traits are trustworthy, open to change, have a strong drive to achieve, maintain optimism in the face of failure, and reflect an unwavering commitment to his/her organization, profession, and/or an issue at hand. Each of these traits was on full display last weekend during the Board of Trustees’ meeting when members approved substantial—and largely unprecedented—changes to the College’s governance structure that will make us more nimble, strategic, accountable, and more reflective of the diversity and breadth within the global cardiovascular community.

At a high level, the changes allow for a centralized Board that is strategically focused and dedicated to the ACC’s mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The new structure is modeled around the concepts of centralized authority and decentralized decision making. Practically, this places tactical, operational, and management decision making at staff and committee levels and makes room for a more diverse group of members to take on leadership opportunities at the College. While more information on these changes will be coming in the weeks and months ahead, key highlights include:

  • Board reduced in size from 31 to 11 members. (Board size will be 19 in 2016, with 12 positions being retired. Further reductions will occur in 2017, with an 11-member Board in place by 2018.)
  • Board members will serve three 3-year terms, renewable for one additional term.
  • Board meetings will occur at least six times a year.
  • Board officers will be limited to: President, President-Elect, Secretary and Treasurer.
  • Board members cannot hold positions on any other ACC non-standing Board committee except for the Board of Governors Chair.
  • There will be six Board standing committees: Governance, Nominating, Audit and Compliance, Finance, Executive (will only meet in emergencies), and Membership.
  • A newly-formed Membership Committee will make sure the BOT is aware of the needs and challenges of all members of the College.

Our next steps will involve implementing these changes. Large-scale transformation takes time, and while the evolution is underway, there are still supporting details that need to be worked out. The College will be working with members and staff in the coming weeks and months to roll out communications, training and support, process plans, and more discrete timelines of change. While many of the changes will start taking place next year, there are several key elements that will be phased-in between now and 2018.

In the immediate short-term, a Blue Ribbon Nominating Committee is coming together to fill the vacant positions that have been put on hold for the last few months while these changes were being determined. Committee nominations will open at the end of this week and will close on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Members are encouraged to review the open positions and may self-nominate or nominate a colleague. With close to 200 open positions, this is an excellent opportunity for members to increase their engagement and contribute to the mission of the College. Applicants will be notified of results in Feb. 2016.

Reaching consensus around these changes was a 2-year process that required everyone involved to be honest, self-aware, open to change, and willing to make the College’s strategic success of utmost priority. The resulting structure and process is a testament to each and every BOT member’s unwavering commitment to the College and its mission, and are the very reasons these men and women have been chosen over the years to hold leadership positions within the College.

On a personal note, having witnessed leadership in many organizations, it requires a high level of selflessness and a vision of a better future for the College for many of its leaders to vote themselves out of office, particularly given the successes achieved with the current leadership model. It is truly a privilege to work with each and every Board member on this endeavor.

As we roll out these changes in the coming months, please ask questions, and share your thoughts and ideas with the Board of Trustees, your Chapter or International Governor, or your Section and Council Chairs. Your voice is a critical element of this process as we continue to ensure these changes are implemented in a manner that meets your needs as a member of the ACC and positions the College for success in the changing health care environment.

Keywords: CardioSource WorldNews

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