When you imagine a leader, it’s easy to picture a scene not unlike that famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware: he’s standing in the prow of his boat, the American flag streaming behind him. Washington is clearly bound for victory. Yet for those studying the art and science of leadership, success often looks very different. Sometimes, to be a leader, you have to get creative. For Ian A. Weissman, DO, and other individuals studying at the Radiology Leadership Institute® (RLI), this is a lesson learned throughout the RLI’s coursework. Weissman has become
the first to achieve the highest level of mastery that the RLI offers. Now that he’s reached the top, Weissman shares some of the more surprising leadership lessons and tactics he’s learned.
Lead From Behind
In that famous painting, Washington is literally and figuratively leading from the front. Weissman’s first tip is to dispel that image: sometimes, he says, leading your team to victory requires you to take a backseat. Weissman has found that some of the most successful initiatives and practices take a synergistic approach. To make true collaboration happen, however, everyone’s voice needs to be heard. Some of your group members may be more introverted and prone to keeping their thoughts to themselves, while others have no problem voicing their opinions.
In situations where everyone’s voices are not equally heard, notes Weissman, the leader’s role is not to be the loudest voice in the room. Rather, she should act as a facilitator, making sure everyone is heard and no one point of view dominates. “It’s got to be a team approach,” says Weissman. “If everyone follows one voice, things may go well for a while, but there’s a good chance you fail to consider other options and viewpoints. You’ll never be as successful,” he adds.
Listen to the Masses
Here’s a tip you probably never thought you’d hear: sometimes it really matters what people think. In this case, it’s your referring physicians. The RLI and Imaging 3.0™ both insist that to survive, radiology must present its value to other members of the health care team. But how do you do that? Weissman notes that sometimes you need to make sure that your referring physicians realize the underlying work you’re doing. For instance, Weissman’s time in the RLI has helped him ensure that the reports he provides are clear and actionable. Part of making those reports involves reading the patient’s chart or any other information available. Weissman includes a note saying that he’s read all patient information, and he makes references to it in his reports — that way, referring physicians know he’s working to provide value. “I actually state outright that I reviewed the chart when I make a specific interpretation. It’s the radiologist’s responsibility as a consultant to tie together all the available information. We need to remember that a referring physician faces just as many challenges as we do, and we should try to make their work easier when we can. It improves the end result for our patients, and it demonstrates our value,” says Weissman.
Play the Long Game
Change doesn’t always come easily. It’s a tough lesson, but one that most RLI attendees face, says Weissman. “Organizations can be very slow to change, and sometimes it’s hard to circumvent the status quo. You have all these great ideas, and people aren’t always receptive to them,” he adds. One way to combat this is to go for the little victories. Bring up ideas you find interesting as often as you can; eventually, some will take hold. Another way Weissman shares principles he’s learned is through his residents. Physicians in training are still forming their habits and are often more receptive to new ideas, says Weissman. And, whoever they are, when an idea strikes a chord with someone, they may share with their peers, who in turn share with others. By creating change through a kind of grassroots method, you can disseminate good information and slowly change minds.