Reflections on Leadership from NEOMED’s Senior Academic Leaders

The University’s three deans spoke at the October meeting of the Fellowship in Academic Medicine (FAME) Leadership Track.

What are some of the best leadership lessons you’ve learned?

Richard Kasmer, Pharm.D., J.D., dean of the College of Pharmacy and vice president of academic affairs; Steven Schmidt, Ph.D., dean of the College of the College of Graduate Studies and vice president of research; and Elisabeth Young, M.D., ('85) dean of the College of Medicine and vice president of health affairs, were asked to respond to three questions on this topic.

Following, paraphrased, are a few of the many insights and observations that the deans shared with the FAME cohort.  

What does the phrase “leading through the unexpected” mean to you?

  • It’s ok “to know that you don’t know.” Be willing to say, “I have no idea,” then seek the answer or solution.
  • Don’t let others define the level of urgency of any given request made of you.
  • Patience is a strong attribute when seeking a solution. If you wait, both your thoughts and the situation will often settle, leading to a solution.
  • Facing the unexpected can be viewed as the norm – and as an opportunity.

What are a few recommendations you would offer to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

Manage time:

  • Use the 24-hour rule: When faced with a complex situation to sort out, allow time to “sleep on it” or say, “I’m going to need a little time to process that,” to give yourself breathing room to gather your thoughts.
  • Schedule time to reflect and stick to it so there is a “pause” to the information pouring in throughout the day.
  • Be aware of when you’re at your best and plan accordingly. If you’re an early riser who is most productive before 2 p.m., plan to do your most challenging work before that and your routine work after it.

Manage priorities:

  • Take care of yourself in all aspects of your life to help balance your views/actions as a leader
    • Relationships (family, friends, mentors)
    • Routines
    • Traditions
    • Reflections of gratitude

Manage expectations:

  • If you’re going into a group discussion that you anticipate may be highly charged, begin by finding common ground. Say, “Can we all agree that XYZ,” and one or two additional statements to set a tone of collaboration and remind people that you’re all on the same team.
  • Know that difficult conversations won’t get easier, but that you become better able to have them.
  • When developing goals, emphasize how expectations of all team members are integrated. Create a matrix that shows how individual goals fit together to build the overall team objectives.
  • Be transparent when delivering messages

What are some leadership lessons that you have learned along the way that you would be willing to share with the group?

  • When your team is recognized, remember to say thank you to the members of the team who have helped you get there.
  • Recognize that your journey as a leader will take twists and turns. Growth opportunities can’t always be planned.

About FAME:

The Fellowship in Academic Medicine (FAME) is a longitudinal professional development program for health professions educators and administrative leaders who have interest in fostering academic excellence, innovation and scholarly productivity in health professions education.  All classes will be held January through November at the NEOMED Rootstown Campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

During the 2019-2020 year, the Teaching Scholar Track will be available. At this time, no Leadership Track is planned for the 2019-2020 year.  

Application Period: September 15 – October 31, 2018

If you are interested in applying, please contact

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