Author: Elad I. Levy
In this issue of the Congress Quarterly, we explore the essential and multi-faceted influence neurosurgeon leaders have in the development of future neurosurgeons and organizational behavior.
While many debate the question if leaders are born but not made, a few would argue leadership skills cannot be acquired, enhanced, or cultivated. As former General Electric CEO Jack Welch explains, "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." In this issue of the Congress Quarterly, this ethos is espoused and depicted through diverse experiential pathways.
In a poignant and personal piece by Dr. David Langer, he describes the pitfalls often encountered during the "transition from elite surgeon to elite leader." Dr. Langer has devoted the last decade to understanding leadership cultivation, and as someone who voluntarily changed career paths late in his development as a cerebrovascular surgeon,his insights are personal and layered.
Dr. Nick Hopkins details a nuanced journey of decades of leadership, driven by the singular passion to change the field of neurovascular surgery. The challenges were many, but through stoic determination, he and others led "from the front" to inspire generations of disciples that created the field we now know as endovascular neurosurgery.
Dr. Julian E. Bailes has shown us how neurosurgeon leaders can effect cultural and institutional change on a national level. He has led the charge to increase awareness around CTE and concussion, and through education and awareness, has enhanced the safety for youth athletes in contact sports. In addition to understanding cultural change around youth sports, Buffalo Bill's head coach Sean McDermott answers questions about evolving leadership styles in the NFL and how a young leader may transform organizational culture.
Education and the cultivation of the next generation of clinicians, academics, and leaders is mission centric to the Congress of Neurosurgeons. Dr. Judy Huang shares her insights on resident education as a program director, while resident leaders provide their perspectives as young trainees. Dr. Brian V. Nahed explores the CNS Leadership in Healthcare course, which is a growing value-add for our youngest members. The course serves to fill the unmet need of mentoring and educating precocious leaders by exploring the skillsets required in the areas of professionalism and communication.
As the title of executive coach Michael Haugen (partner at ghSMART) suggests, there are desired traits that can be attributed to successful leaders and leadership styles. Using the knowledge and findings from his firm's article in the Harvard Business Review, Mr. Haugen describes characteristics that are critical for leadership success.
As you read this issue dedicated to leadership, I am reminded of a phrase I hear often: Effective leaders often believe they are "the least important people in the room," which is a testament to the selfless sacrifice true leadership requires.