If you are like me, you have been thinking about what qualities make someone a good leader this week, or maybe just more than usual. On Monday and yesterday, we had the opportunity to hear from two of the finalists who may become the next vice president for medical affairs and the dean of the Carver College of Medicine. Both candidates have impressive resumes and delivered engaging and thoughtful presentations in their open forums, each of which spoke in part to what makes University of Iowa Health Care unique. They have each earned their successes in coming this far and I applaud the search committee on their work attracting such accomplished candidates. On the VPMA search website, you will find information about each of the candidates, a link to a recording of each open forum and a “Provide Feedback” button. There you can rate different aspects of the candidate’s abilities to contribute to our strategic priorities. There is also an open response field to submit any other comments you might have about each candidate. The form is anonymous, though it does ask you to identify your level of interaction with the candidate and your position at the institution, e.g., faculty, staff, college leadership, etc. I encourage you to make your voice heard on all the candidates before the deadline of 9 a.m. on September 6. Next week we will have a chance to meet two additional candidates.
Of course, there is no easy or definitive checklist that can reveal whether someone is a good leader. They can say all the right things but just like quality, good leadership is only revealed by what you do. And when you examine the characteristics shared by those leaders who produce successful results, you start to see some patterns emerge. Good leaders are passionate and dedicated to broader goals. Much has been said about Dr. Colleen Campbell’s commitment to advancing the field of genetic counseling, but it is worth pointing out how focused she has been to ensuring it had a stable foundation. Years ago, seeing the potential for harm to Iowans, she began to advocate for the establishment of some “rules of the road” by requiring licensure for practicing genetic counselors in the state. Meetings with legislators, letter-writing campaigns, data-gathering, and many conversations later, and the state of Iowa joined the 30-plus other states who can assure patients that their genetic counselor is subject to proper oversight. Dr. Campbell’s passion and dedication in achieving that goal for Iowans was recently recognized at the national level when she was elected president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, a role in which she will no doubt bring that same passion.
A good leader must also be a good communicator, a quality that the search committee at The Rheumatologist must have recognized when they hired Dr. Bharat Kumar as their next physician editor. A quick scan of headlines of this scientific newsmagazine for the American College of Rheumatology shows a well-curated mix of summaries of recent peer-reviewed studies, articles about topics relevant to academic rheumatologists as well as those in private practice, and resources for connection and career advancement. Given Dr. Kumar’s ability to stay aware of the conversation in the field, he should have an easy transition to maintaining their current standards. However, given his creativity in educating fellows, from the creation of a musculoskeletal ultrasound coloring book to some recent fellows’ ultrasound guided injections of an olive embedded in a block of tofu (photos to come, I am told), it is likely that The Rheumatologist will transcend its current levels of excellence under his leadership.
Good leaders also find creative ways to collaborate with those who can produce the best results, regardless of distance. I am excited to see what results come from this next five years as Dr. Frank Faraci leads his lab and co-leads a Network of Excellence that extends from the United States into Germany, France, and Sweden. His seven-member Network is funded by the prestigious Leducq Foundation, a French-based organization that has funded international cardiovascular disease and stroke research for nearly twenty years. Dr. Faraci has worked on Leducq-funded projects before, but this time he will be one of two leaders, his counterpart based in Munich. And their work could not be more vital as they examine variants in brain endothelial cells and their contribution to small vessel disease. Congratulations to Dr. Faraci and best of luck as he coordinates this remarkable team of the world’s best.