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Leadership Advisement: It's About Time (Part I)

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

Alex Johnson, PhD, July 3, 2023

I have served in many leadership roles over my career. Provost, chair, professor, program director, clinical director, and clinician are all job titles that have been part of my pathway. Each of these titles afforded a fascinating scope of work and big challenges. And in each of them, I found that to be successful I always seemed to need more information and to go deeper in my understanding. To be honest, I realized that little in my early clinical training or roles or in my graduate programs prepared me for the leadership skills needed. In some cases, I was fortunate to have exceptional and generous mentors who provided some much needed help. In other cases, I searched outside my own work environment or network and found resources (articles, books, workshops) and consultants too.

Many of these were excellent resources and some were not helpful at all. In any case, I discovered that regardless of the source, I had to extend my own leadership role and context in at least two directions, sometimes more. The resource itself, was rarely a perfect fit. First, I had to connect with the primary purpose of the work that we were doing (academic teaching, clinical work, research), with a deep commitment to the beneficiaries of whatever the project might be. The beneficiaries were almost always patients or learners. Rarely, did I find leadership models or resources that connected with these two primary audiences in a way that was transparent or focused. I had to do that work. I had to develop the mindset that provided the connection to my goals. No mentor or workshop could do that for me. If you are a leader in a professional education program or delivering clinical services, you know what I mean. And trust me, many titled leaders at the highest levels have trouble appreciating the challenge of impacting these most important stakeholders. Sometimes they just "don't get it."

Second, I had to connect this work in a deep way with the team serving at the front line and in the back room. Faculty members, clinicians, administrators, and support staff had to find both satisfaction and purpose in what we were trying to accomplish. Coming to understand this paradigm was not something I had been taught. Thus, the most valuable (and expensive) leadership resource, time, was the cost of this learning. At the highest level, bringing knowledge and resources to the challenge at hand, executed in a manner that serves critical needs, and including a team aligned with the method and the desired outcomes is what builds efficiency and progress. Over time, in my own work, it became clear to me that the burden of putting all of this together was the responsibility of me, the leader. It took me years to discover this and put it into action.

Perhaps this story aligns with the experience of those reading this blog post. How much time are you spending because you are challenged with getting alignment on purpose/vision and on the team? At its core, that's what this new leadership advisement model is about. Sharing resources, approaches, and best practices specifically selected because of their focus on leadership issues, the potential positive impact on the care of patients, and the specific needs of the team is the focus of my leadership advisement work.

I have much to share on this topic and will go deeper soon. In the meantime, feel free to comment or reach out.

To Be Continued....

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