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Stanford University School of Medicine

Dean Lloyd Minor shares leadership lessons at Medicine X

After graduating from medical school, Lloyd Minor, MD, now dean of School of Medicine, spent more than a decade honing his medical and research skills, developing the ability to independently and confidently perform ear surgery. But then, in his first faculty position, he was charged with leading a lab and transferring his skills to his students.

"I realized my ability to advance the field... was more dependent on those around me than it was about me. It made me think about what was involved in leadership," Minor said at a masterclass session at Medicine X over the weekend that packed a classroom with a standing room only crowd.

He said he approached leadership "with the same degree of vigor and intellectual curiosity as a student." And he learned -- through study and experience -- that the best leaders value and prioritize listening and continually learning.

"It will be your North Star," Minor said. "You want to engage with others around you. The worst thing that can happen is to be isolated in a shell and separated from your organization."

Minor offered four additional principles for leaders and future leaders to keep top of mind. First, the importance of building a diverse team, including members with a variety of viewpoints, as well as a broad representation of genders, race and ethnicity and of sexual orientation.

Those diverse teams must be empowered, Minor said. Leaders must ensure they are working together cooperatively and to be aware when relations within a team are bringing down the group.

Leaders must also excel at leading -- promoting the vision and goals of the organization -- without disregarding the day-to-day tasks involved in managing, Minor said.

"Management errors will take you down," Minor said. Be consistently on time to meetings, answer emails and answer phone calls, he counseled. The best CEOs are "first and foremost fantastic managers of themselves."

Finally, leaders are responsible for planning transitions both for themselves and also for the organization as a whole, although this trips up many executives, Minor said.

The dean also fielded questions from audience.

When asked how to increase the diversity of a workforce, Minor said that as a leader at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, he worked to personally recruit excellent candidates by networking at conferences and by working with young trainees. It's also important to build a community that make people from a variety of backgrounds feel welcome, he said.

Minor also discussed the growing prevalence of physician burnout, which Stanford is working to address by creating the WellMD center and hiring a chief wellness officer, Tait Shanafelt, MD, Minor said.

"How do you lead in a room full of leaders?" someone else asked. Build trust, try not to do their job and respect their role and responsibility and ask them what you can do for them, Minor advised.

Most importantly, he said, leaders should remember to listen and learn. "One of the things I've found most fun in life is to learn about others," Minor said.

Previously: Dean Lloyd Minor hosts discussion on health care data sharing and leadership, Precision health aims to reach everyone, Dean Lloyd Minor writes and From surgeon to leader: Lessons from Stanford Medicine's Lloyd Minor
Photo courtesy of Stanford Medicine X

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