RSNA 2017: 3 tips for effective leadership in radiology

Management skills within medicine, specifically in radiology, are critical to success. More important than management, however, is leadership, as it means always doing the right thing rather than just doing things correctly. Tuesday at RSNA 2017 in Chicago, Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, president, CEO and chairman of the board at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, shared several “ingredients for successful leadership” he has learned over the years. These are three lessons he discussed with attendees:

1. Do not micromanage. Delegate.

Too much management can undermine leadership effectiveness, Lewin explained. And most of the time, it is unnecessary. Leaders cannot get all tasks done themselves and trying to do so will ultimately result in failure.

“Rather than thinking too much about the details and getting into the weeds, or micromanaging, you want to set a clear direction, communicate clearly, empower your people and then let them fly,” he said.

Lewin illustrated this point by using an inverted triangle with top management at the bottom and subordinates above. He added that, as CEO, he takes responsibility to ensure the leadership team is able to do their job well by having the resources, skills and time to accomplish their tasks. They in turn, must ensure their subordinates have all materials necessary to do their job correctly and so on.

2. Know your personal values.

Most importantly, Lewin said, a leader must know themselves and should have a solid understanding of their personal values. Values such as honesty, integrity, commitment to excellence, respect for others, diversity and inclusion are all critical to the practice of leadership. Honesty, Lewin noted, is generally viewed as the one characteristic most appreciated in leaders.

“It is important to know and understand your personal values,” Lewin said. “Many of us go through life without articulating them. Some of us may have had them described to us during our upbringing or perhaps have internalized them. But have you sat down and written out your top three or four values?”

He added that analyzing and understanding one’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences is equally important. “What you really want to do is know what you love, what you’re good at, and spend your time doing that,” he said. “That’s where you will have the biggest impact. That’s a way to really be an effective leader because if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re working in your preferences, you’re going to do a better job.”

3. Walk the talk and establish trust.

Leaders must have integrity and practice what they preach, Lewin added. You should act like a model for good behavior and live your values every day. Leaders must do what they expect from others as people will follow. Words and deeds must be consistent and in alignment.

“It is critical that we do what we say,” Lewin said. “People are not going to listen to what we say, but they will watch what we do.”

Furthermore, leaders must be careful what they promise. Following through breeds trust and not following through can have the opposite effect.

“Remember to never make a promise you can’t keep,” Lewin concluded. “Follow through, admit your mistakes, and when you attempt to do something you really can’t do—or you committed to doing something you can’t do—be honest about it.”