The Future of Leadership Development

"Leadership" can mean many things, but it includes skills that physicians and other members of the cardiovascular team need to successfully provide direction for their organizations. Unfortunately, during training, leadership skills are inconsistently taught and rarely stressed, as the primary focus of medical training is on the science and techniques of the profession.

Yet, leaders are grown and developed, not born. One excellent resource is the book called Growing Physician Leaders: Empowering Doctors to Improve Our Healthcare by General Mark Hertling. Hertling had a long and distinguished military career, culminating in his role as Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe and then joining Florida Hospital in 2013. He was tasked to create its physician leadership development program. The program (and subsequent book) was based on concepts contained in the Army Leadership Manual. Hertling published Growing Physician Leaders in 2016, and was the keynote speaker at ACC's 2017 Leadership Conference. To quote Hertling: "From the beginning of medical training, physicians are taught to focus so strongly on the science of their profession that they are unable to focus on the art of leadership. Physicians are not taught the skills required to build a team, grow interpersonal relationships with others on the team or develop their strategic acumen. Unfortunately, these skills are what contribute to changing the landscape, addressing the issues and bringing about real change in the Triple Aim: increasing access to medical treatment, improving patient care and reducing health care costs." This is an excellent introduction to key leadership concepts and deserves a spot on the bookshelf of any physician seeking to improve their leadership skills.

Opportunities for leadership development are evolving rapidly, and in the March-April 2019 Harvard Business Review, there is a spotlight series on leadership development that is worthy of notice. In the lead article of this three-article series, The Future of Leadership Development, Mihnea Moldoveanu and Das Naravandas explain the changes and evolution occurring in leadership education. They describe the rapidly developing "personal learning cloud" as one component of a networked learning structure. Widely-available online and facilitated learning opportunities have become the norm, in contrast to the static courses that were traditionally favored. Current individualized learning is personalized, socialized, contextualized and can be transparently traced. This improves the pertinence of the skills learned while lowering the costs associated with leadership development. Opportunities for leadership education will continue to evolve, and it will facilitate leadership development as a component of lifelong learning.

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This article was authored by Jesse E. Adams III, MD, FACC, cardiologist at Baptist Health in Louisville, KY.