Leadership and the New Year

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Wilson_edited-1 (04.01.13) A new year is a time when we assess where we have been and look with anticipation to what the future will bring.

It is a time for New Year's Resolutions, for a new start and for resetting the clock.

It is a time for thinking about how to improve on past performance - to do things better.

For those of us who are in leadership positions it is an opportunity to evaluate our leadership skills and think of how we can be more effective in helping those who honor us by putting us in such positions.

At meetings over the past two months I was privileged to hear two speakers who in unique and pithy ways addressed aspects of leadership.

Robin Coupland, FRCP, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, spoke in Vancouver, Canada and gave guidelines about how to be effective in making change.

He said that to make change one must:

  • Make people concerned - illustrate with stories
  • Have images - show pictures
  • Be credible - engender trust in those with whom one is speaking
  • Have data - use evidence to make one's case

Martin McKee, Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, spoke in Taipei, Taiwan and provided the following seven attributes of effective leaders.

  1. Curiosity - people who want to understand the world around them, not those whose horizons are limited by just what is needed to pass an examination
  2. Initiative - people who are willing to take the initiative; social entrepreneurs, people who will spot an opportunity and go for it
  3. Ability to make connections - by that is meant the ability to assess events past and future and establish how they may be related.
  4. Ability to convey the big picture - distinguish the forest from the trees
  5. Know what you are up against - people who are able to evaluate the size of the challenge
  6. Engage confidently with decision makers - people who are able to make their case with those who are in power
  7. Ground your work in human rights - a democratic society based on social justice and equal rights for all are core requirements for a healthy society

My thanks to Drs. Coupland and McKee for their contribution to getting 2013 off to a good start.

WMA President Cecil. B. Wilson, MD travels around the world talking about the WMA's work representing the millions of physicians worldwide. Acting on behalf of patients and physicians, the WMA endeavors to achieve the highest possible standards of medical care, ethics, education and health related human rights for all people. This blog will chronicle these travels and important issues.