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MUSC Excellence at the College of Medicine/UMA

LDI highlights importance of People pillar

by Jerry Reves, M.D.
Dean, College of Medicine and Vice President, Medical Affairs
As customary, I would like to recap some key elements and provide highlights from our fifth Leadership Development Institute (LDI), held March 14  where more than 300 of us met. 

People pillar
Our guest speaker John-Henry Pfifferling, Ph.D., a medical anthropologist, spoke on the key behavioral attributes associated with leadership.
Effective leaders are direct and open with information, seek feedback regularly, compliment truthfully, and apologize when indicated. They demonstrate confidence in others, promote independent decision-making, and are able to delegate responsibility effectively.
Strong leaders manage conflict by using effective information gathering techniques, examining problems from multiple perspectives, building teamwork through collaborative problem-solving, and discovering and implementing win-win solutions. Leaders must support inventiveness and reward good performance, never letting dissatisfaction, declining performance, or burnout become endemic.
Self-appraisal recommendations were provided to help leaders develop optimal behavioral patterns. Leaders should assess to what extent they communicate clearly and directly with their team, if the goals they set are appropriate and sufficient, if every member of their team fully understands their roles and expectations, whether adequate progress checks have been developed and implemented, if optimal process improvement efforts are in place to foster efficiency and productivity, and whether personal responses to criticism and stressors, as well as efforts to foster personal well-being, are adequate.
Pfifferling also provided insight and direction on the importance of providing constructive feedback using effective communication patterns that enhance the likelihood of success. Leaders should review pertinent assessment information, conduct exchanges openly and receptively, discuss expectations clearly, explain the rationale for decisions, offer suggestions that get right to the point, and empower team members to collaborate in developing appropriate response plans. He also stressed the importance of providing follow-up assessments on corrective action plans and permitting mid-course corrections based upon straightforward interim evaluation methods.
Pfifferling emphasized that a strong leader is committed to the critical goal of excellence, not to the unattainable goal of perfection.
Susan Harvey, M.D., presented an overview of the MUSC Excellence Reward and Recognition Program, designed to motivate, inspire, and applaud those around us through a variety of mechanisms, celebrating our many successes through frequent, specific, and timely positive feedback.
Fundamental to our success is to “celebrate what you want to see more of,” keeping in mind that positive reinforcement heightens morale, motivation, and engagement, which in turn leads to increased productivity and decreased stress-related negative outcomes.
Ben Clyburn, M.D., provided an update from the Standards Team, reminding us of the current standard of the quarter, Managing Up—a term that means complimenting our colleagues and coworkers. This is a powerful way to improve morale. The converse of complimenting each other is being critical—a most destructive act. Illustrating this, Ben gave us his grandmother’s sage advice: “It’s a poor frog that won’t praise its own pond.”
Connie Best, Ph.D., emphasized the role of personal well-being in promoting resiliency in leaders. She reviewed leadership attributes that can serve to magnify the effects of stressors and recommended performing an inventory of personal stress resiliency factors. The complete Personal Stress Navigator assessment tool is available online at
Best noted that positive adaptation behaviors may not be innate, but can be learned to develop resiliency and increase effectiveness. Adaptability can be enhanced by learning to recognize and respond appropriately to personal stress signals in ourselves and in those around us. Communicating openly and effectively, building supportive relationships, maintaining a positive outlook, accepting that change is natural, establishing personal priorities, practicing time management, moving decisively toward realistic goals, and adequately attending to personal health needs are important factors in building resiliency. Additional recommendations and resources may be found at
Bruce Elliott, M.D., reviewed the critical impact of hands-on mentoring, and I reminded attendees that our destiny is in our own hands, as we strive to function with ever-lessening state support.  People are clearly our greatest asset—you make MUSC what it is. How we treat each other says a great deal about who we are, and as we strive for excellence it is absolutely essential that we make MUSC a place we want to be, through our actions and our interactions.

Friday, April 11, 2008
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