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- Patrick T. O'Gara, MD, FACC, President, American College of Cardiology∗ ()
- ↵∗Address correspondence to: Patrick T. O'Gara, MD, FACC, American College of Cardiology, 2400 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
John Quincy Adams defined a leader as someone whose “actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more” (1). The American College of Cardiology's (ACC's) 65-year history is rife with numerous examples of leaders, men and women, who truly embody the attributes described by Adams. They have inspired research breakthroughs, been recognized by their peers for professional contributions to their respective fields, served as mentors both professionally and personally, charted new paths for the College, and so much more. Importantly, they have led more by example than by personal acclaim or self-aggrandizement.
Many of these leaders have become household names in cardiology and medicine. Several such names are etched in glass at the ACC's Heart House in Washington, DC, while other names are inscribed in books about the history of cardiology, cited on the mastheads of leading medical journals, and listed among keynote speakers at major scientific meetings (including ACC's Annual Scientific Session). Still others may choose to function out of the spotlight, with their contributions to the profession gowned in red robes at Convocation, encapsulated in a smile from a grateful patient not expected to go home, or recognized for excellence by a hospital, health system, medical school, or fellowship program. Many of our leaders are at work advocating for our patients and profession in state legislatures and the halls of Congress. Collectively and individually, they demonstrate the kind of values, talent, and work ethic to which we all aspire.
In his 1998 paper in Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman wrote that the best leaders have 5 key traits in addition to intelligence and technical experience. These include: 1) self-awareness; 2) self-regulation; 3) motivation; 4) empathy; and 5) social skills (2). According to Goleman (2), leaders with these traits of “emotional intelligence” recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and their effect on others. They are trustworthy, open to change, have a strong drive to achieve, are optimistic in the face of failure, and have an unwavering commitment to an organization, their profession, and/or an issue at hand. They also have expertise in building and retaining teams and leading in times of change.
As I assume the role of president of the College for the next year, one of my primary goals in working with members and staff will be to encourage the identification and development of new leaders who embody these traits. According to Warren Bennis, a pioneer in the field of leadership studies, “the most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born—that there is a genetic factor to leadership. … In fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born” (1). This principle underlies many of the objectives of the ACC's annual Cardiovascular Care Summit, the most recent of which was held in Las Vegas in January. The organizers of the Summit deserve much credit for making ACC leadership training a reality.
The ACC, and the cardiovascular profession as a whole, must work continuously to “make” new leaders. These individuals will be critical if we are to successfully meet the challenges engendered by our changing healthcare system, including patient demographics, new employment models, the migration to team-based care, innovative technologies, big data, and recertification requirements, to name but a few. They will help us define (and deliver) value, manage information, and educate future generations. We will also rely on their creativity and courage to design and execute cutting-edge research at the basic, translational, clinical, and population levels.
These are no small tasks; yet, they are achievable if we can place the right leaders in the right places at the right time. We expect clinical excellence from all our members. Our leaders, however, must also be agents of change, ambassadors for new partnerships, expert communicators, and active participants in College affairs, as well as in research, scholarship, health policy, management, and advocacy. Populating our leadership ranks now will help ensure the ascendancy of future generations that will be equipped to place the College and the profession on a course to meet the many local, national, and global challenges we face, while continuing to transform cardiovascular care, improve heart health, and promote wellness.
Leadership is not easy. In fact, we are taught that it can be frustrating, lonely, and even tiring. Yet, the results of good leadership are unquantifiable. All you need to do is look back over 65 years of ACC accomplishments, or better yet, ahead at the rows of newly-inducted ACC fellows, cardiac care associates, and fellowship awardees assembled at Convocation to see just how far we have come and just how far we can go! I look forward to working with each and every ACC member to prepare for this future.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation
- ↵Kruse K. 100 Best Quotes on Leadership. Forbes. October 16, 2012. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/10/16/quotes-on-leadership/. Accessed February 14, 2014.
- Goleman D.