July 14, 2023

Time-Tested Principles and Skills of Leadership

Joseph G. Cernigliaro, MD, FACR

headshotOver the last three decades, we’ve seen many changes within the practice of radiology, including the switch from film to filmless, PACS development, increased volumes and image counts, expanded hours and days, artificial intelligence, and the ability to work from home. We’ve also seen growth in corporatization and multispecialty practices as well as a decrease in smaller, radiology-specific private groups.

During this time, I’ve served in leadership roles in education and administration. Leadership has changed over time with the rise of the servant leader and fall of the autocrat. Several central principles and skills of leadership stand the test of time:

  1. Transparency.
    If you share your vision and the reasons behind it, and people believe you are honest, they will trust and help you.

  2. Listen and communicate.
    Listen to others and clearly communicate the vision.

  3. Motivation.
    If people feel unintimidated, valued and free to contribute, they will share their ideas and help you achieve yours. Reward and recognize your staff whenever possible.

  4. Critical thinking.
    Gather the information, examine it with as many points of view as possible, listen actively, form an opinion and develop your executable plan.

  5. Relationships and team building.
    Strong relationships are key — developed both within and outside of your department. If your team knows you, trusts you and helps develop the plan, it should succeed.

  6. Innovate.
    Develop new ideas and see if old processes could be done differently to advance the field and make the job easier and more efficient.

  7. Roll with the punches.
    With constant change and financial pressures, you must be able to assess, adapt and act.

  8. Conflict management.
    Identify the reason for the conflict, develop the best possible solution and implement it.

  9. Negotiate.
    Listen actively, stay calm, ask questions, build relationships when possible and try to find common ground. Is there a win-win? If not, what is the best alternative?

  10. Goals and expectations.
    Set them for yourself and your team.

  11. Feedback.
    Give constructive feedback and try to receive feedback regarding your leadership. Aim to learn from your mistakes.

  12. Mentor future leaders.
    Train people who cover when you are away. Mentor your future successors.

Some people innately have more of these skills; however, they can also be learned and practiced by all. Attend a Radiology Leadership Institute® course, read, and practice your skills with your family and friends.