Is leadership inherited or learned (inspired)? Are leaders born or raised? Do leaders know that they are leading? Although the definition of leadership is elusive, I think the potential for leadership can be recognized, even in young people, and particularly in young orthopaedic surgeons.
- Commanders—authoritarian and results-oriented individuals who exude power and inspire confidence
- Attackers—brilliant strategists who are frequently intimidating and have the tenacity of a bulldog
- Analyticals—precise, diligent, detail-oriented individuals who lead by brilliance and example
- Drifters—innovative, visionary, easy-going, and laid-back free spirits, with the persuasiveness of a politician
- Performers—flamboyant, talkative self-promoters who expect great accomplishments
- Avoiders—quiet and reserved individuals who fear risk and resist change
- Pleasers—thoughtful, uncritical, easy to get along with, and great at delegating
- Achievers—consensus builders whose self-confidence, honesty, and social and political skills inspire trust
With all of these variables, it sometimes is difficult to see leadership right in front of our own eyes. The American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) has recognized this for many years and has a traveling fellowship program that is second to none, in which young orthopaedists are exposed to orthopaedic leaders in the United States and other countries.
AAOS efforts to foster leadership
In 2002, the AAOS, under the guidance of Vernon T. Tolo, MD, and Richard H. Gelberman, MD, established the Leadership Fellows Program (LFP). The goal of the LFP is to identify and develop future Academy leaders from its younger members. The LFP provides them with education about leadership and the Academy so they are better prepared to assume roles of responsibility.
As you read last month in AAOS Now, the LFP, over the last 6 years, has trained 105 young orthopaedists. Although some may argue that this duplicates the training offered by other orthopaedic societies and subspecialties, I believe we should train as many leaders as we can, and that number still will not be sufficient.
The LFP is an intense, year-long program that requires a fair amount of time and travel. Each fellow has an assigned leadership mentor who is considered a proven AAOS leader. At the end of the year, each leadership fellow is assigned to an AAOS committee. Although the success of the program may be hard to measure objectively, I consider it a huge success. Although still a relatively new program, to date, leadership fellows have served on 28 different committees. In addition, five have served on the Board of Directors, and one is the current treasurer-elect. (It will be interesting to see which LFP graduate is first to become the president of the AAOS.)
Can you identify a leader?
Traditionally, nominees for the LFP have come from academic institutions, hospital-based practices, or large orthopaedic groups. Realizing that leadership comes from all “walks” of orthopaedics, the selection committee wants to encourage applications from potential leaders from small communities and small practices or institutions as well. If you know a young orthopaedist in your community who has leadership potential, nominate him or her for the LFP by e-mailing Steven Frick, MD, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who knows? Your nominee may become another Bill Tipton, in whose honor the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation’s (OREF) William W. Tipton Jr., MD, Leadership Award is named.
The Tipton Leadership Award Committee is looking for the unsung leader, the leader who has not been bestowed with accolades in the past, the leader who, like Bill Tipton, gets the job done without a lot of hoopla. The last three recipients of the Leadership Award—Richard J. Haynes, MD; Stuart Hirsch, MD; and Michael F. Schafer, MD—have these qualities. Like the Marines, the committee is looking for a few good men or women. Each of us knows someone like that. He or she doesn’t have to be a “big name” in orthopaedics, or an academician, or from a large practice or university setting. He or she just has to have your respect for being a leader. Let the committee know. The nominating process isn’t difficult: just download a nomination form from the OREF Web site (www.oref.org).
Are we leading yet?
The answer to that question, I think, is “Yes.” The AAOS is training leaders for all of orthopaedics, and orthopaedics is “leading” the rest of organized medicine. I hope that others, such as orthopaedic subspecialty societies, will follow the AAOS lead in sponsoring leadership development programs. Programs such as the LFP and the Tipton Leadership Award are wise investments in the future of our specialty.