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Developing Your Faculty’s Leadership Skills and Visibility: Recommendations from the ACLGIM 2019 Winter Summit

 , June 03, 2019

Elizabeth A. Jacobs, MD, MPH, is the chief of primary care and value based health and professor of Medicine and Population Health and the vice chair for Research, Department of Medicine, at the University of Texas at Austin

One of the best things about the Association of Chiefs and Leaders in General Internal Medicine (ACLGIM) meetings are the opportunities to learn and network with successful leaders and mentors of successful leaders. At this past year’s Winter Summit, a group of Division Chiefs and other leaders met to discuss how it has been able to develop its faculty as leaders, to make sure they are recognized as leaders at their institutions, and to equitably elevate leaders.

Our attendees had several strategies to develop leaders. A common strategy was mentoring faculty until they were mature enough to lead and then transitioning them into leadership roles. In addition to mentoring, some Division Chiefs used clinical revenue or other division funds to pay for leadership development. Others nominated their faculty for institutional leadership training programs or created leadership tracts within their division. A common challenge to faculty development and promotion of faculty was the lack of open leadership positions because they had been recently filled or someone had been in that position for many years, precluding the move of younger leaders into the position. One strategy for dealing with that potential issue is setting some term limits on how long leadership positions are held and working with the leader in the position to participate in succession planning. We also spoke of the importance of titles to faculty and of being seen as leaders in their organization.

An important part of ACLGIM members’ missions is to promote diversity in our profession, particularly in leadership in academia where  women and minorities are underrepresented. Thankfully, there are now many programs to promote diversity in leadership, including in ACLGIM, but our group had additional suggested strategies for diversifying its leadership group. The first was to have an open application process, advertising positions, personally inviting womenand minority faculty to apply, and working to have an unbiased selection process based on criterion agreed to before even accepting applications. Way too often, we go to people we know and who are like us. We can, however, train mentors to open their minds and understand the ways to reduce our unconscious bias as mentors and address the unique barriers female and minority faculty face in their leadership and career journeys. If this is not working, too often our faculty poses its own barriers to seeking out leadership opportunities as so many of us have “imposter syndrome.” A great strategy in this context is to express your confidence in that faculty member, help them get mentoring, and continue to invite them to the table. We encourage leaders to consider some of these suggestions from ACLGIM members when developing leaders in their own Divisions and institutions.

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