What would prompt someone to exclaim “fantastic, inspirational, and motivational,” and trigger adults to hug each other when it is time to say goodbye? The first-ever SHM Leadership Academy welcomed 110 hospitalist leaders to the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, AZ on January 10–13, 2005. A resounding success, the Leadership Academy offered instruction in leading change, communicating effectively, handling conflict and negotiation, strategic planning, and interpreting hospital business drivers. Two years in the making, this course combined an outstanding national faculty with small group learning exercises to begin the process of training hospitalists who will lead important initiatives as we shape the hospital of the future.
At the 2003 SHM Annual Meeting in San Diego, a standing room crowd of about 200 hospitalists at the Leadership Forum expressed their need for advanced leadership training. Responding to obvious demand, SHM developed a successful, soldout 1-day Leadership Pre-Course held in New Orleans at the 2004 SHM Annual Meeting. Building on this pre-course and again reacting to the requests of SHM members, Co-Directors Russell Holman and Mark Williams designed the Leadership Academy to provide more in-depth training over 4 days. Assisted by Tina Budnitz, SHM Senior Advisor for Planning and Development, this course was developed to address the leadership training needs of hospitalists. As an example of its resounding success, one participant made the following comment. “Even with 18 years of clinical/administrative experience as well as an MBA, this course was a learning experience and I gained and reinforced critical areas of thinking and actions.”
Credit for this success deservedly should be attributed to the outstanding faculty. SHM’s CEO Larry Wellikson led the first day, eloquently delineating the leadership challenges in hospital medicine. The audience appreciated how hospital medicine is evolving rapidly, still defining itself, and how hospitalists will be developing metrics for success. The remainder of the first day allowed participants to evaluate their own strengths and assess how their unique styles impact interactions with others. Using the Strength Deployment Inventory®, David Javitch, PhD explored how “reds,” “greens,” and “blues” approach situations and communicate with their colleagues. Javitch, an organizational psychologist from Harvard, demonstrated how individual styles of communication and interaction influence success at management and leadership. SHM Member Eric Howell, MD moderated a discussion featuring a movie capturing common hospital-based examples of conflict and led participants through techniques for conflict resolution and negotiation.
On the second day, Michael Guthrie, MD, MBA identified business drivers for hospital survival and success. Guthrie currently serves as a senior executive for a large national health alliance and has experience as a health system CEO, medical director, and consultant on performance improvement. Guthrie finished the morning by helping attendees interpret hospital performance reports and associated metrics and determine how such measures should guide leadership planning and decision making.
The next day was highlighted by sessions led by Jack Silversin, DMD, DrPH from Harvard, using table exercises and real world examples to demonstrate how to lead change. A nationally recognized expert in change management and co-author of “Leading Physicians through Change: How to Achieve and Sustain Results,” Dr. Silversin actively stimulated attendees to appraise their situations at home. He showed participants how to develop shared organizational vision, strengthen leadership, and accelerate implementation of change. Afterwards, Holman and Williams coordinated a series of sessions on strategic planning. They used multiple examples and exercises to aid attendees in developing vision and mission statements, as well as “SMART” goals.
The final day focused on communication. An experienced educator, Kathleen Miner, PhD, MPH, MEd, reviewed communication theory and how it applies to our everyday conversations and interactions. Miner, an Associate Dean for Public Health at Emory University, brought decades of experience to her presentation. The course ended with Holman recapping how to use what we learned to achieve success as a leader.