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Leadership lessons from the Dean of Stanford Medicine

I had the privilege of attending a masterclass on leadership at Stanford University School of Medicine with Lloyd Minor, the Dean. Here’s what we learned.

Dean Minor

photo credit @StevenChanMD

He suggested three readings to prepare:

  1. Personal renewal by John Gardner.
  2. What leaders really do by John Kotter.
  3. I was impossible, but then I saw how to lead by Ruth Simmons.

Our class had ~15 clinicians, technologists, and students. We started with introductions and then discussed five principles of leadership:

  1. Listen & learn.
  2. Diverse teams maximize performance.
  3. Empower your team1.
  4. Management deals with complexity, while leadership deals with change.
  5. Plan transitions2.

Dr. Minor also answered some questions from our group:

How do you earn loyalty, especially when you are a new leader at an established organization?

Buy-in from people you lead is dynamic and evolves over time. Listen and learn.

How do you build a culture where people are proud to be part of your organization?

Hire people who already bought in to your vision. People at Stanford or Google want to be there.

What do you do if your organization faces a threat and you have to act before getting everyone’s permission?

  1. Communicate the threat to your organization.
  2. Take action.
  3. Protect your organization and make it clear your actions were to do so and not to further your own interest or harm anyone you lead.

How do you create core values in your organization?

Core values already exist in large orgs; you don’t create them. You have to listen to find, gain consensus around, clarify, and articulate them.

How do you continue learning leadership?

Read (form a group), get a coach, and obtain feedback.

  1. People should be great solo, but even more amazing together. And don’t restrict the independence of amazing people. 

  2. Let everyone know you have arrived to serve them, not yourself. And if you leave, make sure the organization endures.