Leadership Strategies

We have the goal of achieving and maintaining a diverse leadership team in the Department of Surgery. This will include setting goals that significantly diversify all leadership positions in our department. We aim to improve retention rates by fully eliminating underrepresentation in departmental leadership. We will concurrently work with departmental leadership (section heads, associate chairs, and chair) to find novel ways to create an expanded structure of non-overlapping leadership positions within the department.

Leadership Skill Development

This year-long series of development modules targets the interpersonal and leadership skills necessary to achieve professional and personal goals. Early career faculty members will work in small group cohorts based on a coaching model. This program will extend for faculty in later years of practice (Associate and Professor level) with the existing Midcareer Leadership Development Program. The Early Career Leadership Development Program will promote the development of fundamental leadership skills (ex. managing teams, working through conflict) using goal-directed tasks that are individualized to specific career needs and incorporated within a structured mentorship program. The program elements are intentionally broad to ensure these topics are relevant to all early career faculty. Upon completion of this program, participants will be uniquely equipped to serve in leadership positions at the local, state or national level.

Since 2012, we have built and sustained a faculty Leadership Development Program within our department of surgery. This year-long program includes half to full day sessions to prepare Associate-level and full Professors with the necessary skills for institutional and professional society leadership, including leadership, team building, business acumen and understanding context (local, regional, and national).

Each cycle of this program includes approximately 25 mid-career and senior faculty. We have recently completed the 4th cycle, ushering more than half of the faculty through the program. We have found this program to become a key tool for reflection on departmental challenges and opportunities; a unique opportunity to build relationships across clinical silos; and a launching point for other faculty development initiatives.

Competency Model for Mid-Career Leadership Development Program
Competency Model for our Leadership Development Program for Mid-Career and Senior Surgeons.

The program was 8 months long and included the following key elements:

  • 8 full day seminars and longitudinal learning: The backbone of the program was monthly Friday sessions where the entire group was present for didactics, experiential learning, and in-person group projects. For each of the 8 days, we made it a priority to include high quality didactics, engaging speakers, and content that would be valuable to our cohort. As shown below, these days were designed to support learning in each of our areas of competency, including leadership, team building, business acumen, and healthcare context.
  • 360-degree feedback and coaching: Each participant undergoes a 360-degree evaluation by their direct reports, peers, and supervisors. We also thought expose our faculty to executive coaching, as a tool for personal improvement. Each participant has two sessions with a coach to debrief and develop a personal improvement plan.
  • Longitudinal group projects: To enhance team building among the cohort, participants conduct group projects during the program. There are a broad range of group projects conducted, but they all aim in some way to improve the department of surgery using what was learned during the program. Many of the projects went on to launch new faculty development programs that are aimed to enhance faculty engagement and culture.

Competency Model for our Leadership Development Program for Mid-Career and Senior Surgeons

  • Leadership: Vision, Strategy, Communication.
  • Team Building: Collaborative, Effective, Multi-faceted Teams.
  • Business Acumen: Finance, Marketing, Operations.
  • Understanding Context: Macro (Policy) and Micro (Michigan Medicine).
LDP group discussion
LDP presentation
LDP group discussion

This resident-led program aims to intentionally develop leadership and interpersonal skills in surgical residents throughout their years of training. Leveraging the support of the Michigan Promise, this program includes three components. First, interactive sessions introduce residents to concepts related to leadership theory, team building, and self-development. These sessions occur during protected educational time, avoiding scheduling burden and conflicting clinical responsibilities. Second, case-based discussion guides residents to generate strategies to practice their leadership skills during daily activities. Third, this program teaches residents to master awareness of self and others within diverse teams. Using guided reflection, peer support, and enhanced feedback tools, residents will gain a 360° view of their leadership styles, strengths, and areas for improvement within the context of their current and future leadership performance. 

Diversity in Leadership

Our goal is to maximize the unique potential and talents of each individual, as well as address challenges that they may face. Moreover, we strive to create a leadership structure that is diverse and reflects the differences in the world around us and for our patients. For all faculty members across tracks, we will establish a Leadership Development committee which will review faculty accomplishments annually to identify “high leadership potential” faculty and skills in the areas of clinical care, education, innovation, research, and diversity. This committee is specifically focused on identifying opportunities for Assistant and Associate level faculty members, and providing a tailored approach to sponsorship by matching relevant opportunities and potential sponsors for the subset of faculty members who are qualified and interested in being considered for future leadership roles.

Early Career Faculty Exchange Program

Traditionally, the opportunity to visit academic institutions as an invited guest for presentations and scientific programs is reserved for senior faculty. Faculty exposure at partnering institutions could provide early career faculty the opportunity to network, establish collaborations, observe experts in their field perform procedures not currently offered at the University of Michigan or to disseminate their own research.

Through the Early Career Faculty Exchange, the Department of Surgery will foster these experiences with following goals:

  1. Increase national visibility of our early career faculty.
  2. Allow early career faculty to network and establish inter-institutional collaborations.
  3. Develop/observe new operative techniques, skills or interests.
  4. Increase the exposure of our trainees to faculty from a diverse array of institutions.

Assistant professor level faculty across all tracks within the Department of Surgery are eligible to apply for the early career faculty exchange program. Faculty will participate in 3 or 4-day period of protected time and travel expenses to visit another Department of Surgery in the United States. The faculty will be expected to provide didactics for the receiving institution’s trainees, lectures/seminars showcasing their research, and meet with the receiving institution’s faculty, observe procedures or discuss clinical or academic collaboration. A network of participating institutions of academic surgical departments across the United States has been established to encourage faculty participation. All assistant professor level faculty within the Department of Surgery are eligible. Surgical faculty hired after July 2017 are eligible upon completion of the Faculty Launch Program.