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On Leadership

November 25, 2017

Hi everyone,

I spent Thanksgiving Saturday burrowing through old emails and uncovered links to leadership videos that Dr. Sankey recently sent me. The videos are gems, featuring Drs. Elizabeth Bradley and David Berg. Dr. Bradley used to direct Yale’s Global Health Leadership Institute and recently became President of Vassar College. Dr. Berg is an organizational psychologist and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale. For years, he’s met weekly with our Chief Residents, fostering leadership skills and helping them navigate the complex institutional dynamics that come with their job.

The Bradley-Berg videos challenge common leadership myths. For example, for many, the word “leader” evokes images of war heroes, leading men, and sports legends who all seem to share certain gender, ethnic, and personality traits.

Unfortunately, these images perpetuate the fiction that leaders must possess certain innate qualities that are unattainable to many of us, particularly women and minorities. Misguided assumptions about what leaders look like deprive talented people from assuming important roles and impoverish organizations, including academic medical centers.

Dr. Berg dispenses with the idea of the “born leader,” redefining leadership as a role we each can play. Leadership can only function within relationships. You can’t lead alone. Effective leaders recognize how the skills of others complement theirs. Similarly, they acknowledge their own limitations and imperfections and welcome corrective input. Finally, true leaders accept that they have prejudices, which left uncheck, could keep them from building teams with diverse talents and perspectives.

One of our residency’s core missions is to develop leaders in medicine. Many of our trainees will become leading scientists, educators, clinicians, and administrators. During training, we foster leadership skills as residents guide floor teams, committees, and interest groups. These skills will prove essential one day as our graduates rise through the ranks of academia, government, industry, or wherever their passions take them.

We can all become leaders, regardless of our race, gender, or ethnicity. Leaders can be young or old, big or small, introverts or extroverts, experienced or just starting out.

Leadership skills complement the many abilities we acquire during residency. Let’s discuss additional ways to foster leadership development and, when you have a few minutes, sit back and watch the videos:

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone,


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on November 26, 2017