What makes an effective leader? The question is a crucial one for academic surgeons, who must successfully lead teams of people in their offices, laboratories, and above all, the operating room — and ideally, also make their mark as an authority on the national stage.

In a major initiative over the past decade, the Department of Surgery has been working to build an environment in which leadership is not just expected, but actively fostered and supported. This culture of leadership draws on multiple components to ease the path to success.

Profiles in Leadership

Throughout this year’s annual report, the department highlights individuals whose work exemplifies the culture of leadership. Driven by mentorship, formal training, their own initiative, or a combination of these factors, they have contributed in meaningful ways.

Read profiles in leadership >>

A cornerstone of the effort is mentorship, with the recognition that all faculty have a responsibility to mentor. The department offers mentorship training to refine skills and clarify responsibilities, namely: Help mentees identify their professional passions and guide them to resources. Mentees typically end up with a network of mentors to address various areas of career development.

Leadership training is another key component. Roughly 20 percent of the faculty has completed formal training programs, and on-campus guest speakers provide informal instruction on patient safety, team building and other topics.

The department also stresses behavioral leadership — exhibiting the interpersonal skills needed to run effective teams, particularly in the operating room. Faculty surveys and 360-degree performance reviews identify areas for improvement. The department provides stress- management resources, has developed a code of conduct, and has improved the performance evaluation process.

Mentors and senior faculty work hard to provide leadership opportunities to faculty at all levels — both within the organization and externally — and faculty are encouraged to find or create such opportunities on their own. The department’s sheer size allows faculty to protect time outside of clinical duties to pursue these and other goals.

The ongoing efforts, rooted in deep commitment, aim to ensure that every faculty member achieves his or her full potential, and in the process, carries forward the department’s long tradition of excellence.