ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Transformational Leadership

The ACR 2022 Moreton Lecture highlighted strategy, readiness, execution, and sustainability as crucial factors to bring about transformational change. 
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June 23, 2022

For this year’s Moreton Lecture, Brigette McInnis-Day, a former executive at Google Cloud and software giant SAP, dove into how leadership can adapt to the changing landscape to foster a better work environment. Using her own experiences inciting change, McInnis-Day dove into the issues she has seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and how transformational leadership flourished in unusual circumstances.

McInnis-Day started out by discussing the challenges she has witnessed within the radiology community. From AI to non-physician providers expanding services to a fear of not having a say in the workplace, challenges were abundant. But with challenges come opportunities such as a highly intelligent workforce and a bright future in the medical field.

McInnis-Day stressed that the best way for radiology to move forward is through transformational, not transactional, leadership. She explained that transactional leadership materializes quickly but it’s harder to get people on board with a basic approach that lacks inspiration, empowerment, innovation, and a voice. It puts emphasis on hierarchy and chain of command that has more of a reactive approach. “Transactional leadership is about an economic give and take,” McInnis-Day said. “You come to work, you have a job, I pay you.” It’s considered safe and reliable but may lack voice and diversity, according to McInnis-Day. Transformational leadership, however, rewards individuality and risk-takers. It may take longer to get organized by including a large number of key stakeholders, but once everyone is on board, it fosters a great work environment that teams and practices can get behind.

Other leadership behaviors emerged during the pandemic that McInnis-Day noted were transparent communication, resilience, agility, and inclusion. All these skills, according to McInnis-Day, are needed for transformational change to occur. But of all these skills, resilience is the most crucial. “It’s not just about experiencing failures — your success is determined based on how quickly you get back up, how quickly you bounce back and apply what you’ve learn to not do it again and grow,” she said.

According to McInnis-Day, people getting behind your strategy and leadership drives change within an organization. “The most important part of your strategy is the people,” McInnis- Day said. “People need to be woven into every single step and understand which stakeholders are going to be leveraged during the entire transformation.” McInnis-Day went on to highlight strategy, readiness, execution, and sustainability as crucial factors to lead change.

McInnis-Day brought up a panel consisting of McKinley Glover IV, MD, MHS; Dana H. Smetherman, MD, MPH, MBA, FACR; Captain (Ret.) Stephen L. Ferrara, MD, FACR; and Monica J. Wood, MD, to discuss their experience in leading change. The panel dove into what they believe are key aspects of transformational change, along with personal stories to drive their points home.

The lecture concluded with a call to action by McInnis-Day. She encouraged all in attendance to reflect over the past few years and what they have done to incite transformational change during the pandemic. She reinforced focusing on the team and opening opportunities for them to not only improve what the team does but also help it grow. Lastly, she talked about using the past to affect the present and influence the future. “Take the lead,” she said. “Be part of the solution. And use the ACR to really unify, embrace, and lead the future of radiology.”