“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus,
and the right people in the right seats.”
Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
Last month, the APS Nominating Committee held its annual conference call to consider approximately 40 candidates who had been proposed by the Committee and wider APS membership to replace some of our current leaders whose terms are coming to a close. They include our president-elect and secretary treasurer, and members of our council and nominating committees.
As described in the General Qualifications for Candidates, strong candidates for APS leadership roles are those who: (1) are active members, as reflected in terms of longevity and regular attendance at our annual meetings; (2) are leaders in their professional field, as reflected in their current career position and notable contributions to research, education, and health care; (3) are committed to APS, as reflected in their current and prior range of involvement with our organization; (4) have demonstrated leadership skills in non-profit professional organizations, as reflected in their roles either within or outside of APS; and (5) possess high ethical standards and for whom serving would not constitute a significant conflict of interest. In addition, the Nominating Committee sought diversity among its leaders with respect to gender, race, nationality, and professional background.
Whether in government, business, academia, or in a non-profit professional society such as APS, having the right people in the right roles can determine the success of that organization, and so leadership is the topic of this month’s Message.
I have read many articles and books on leadership, but my favorite book on the topic is Good to Great by Stanford Graduate School of Business professor and management consultant Jim Collins. Starting with 1,435 established companies, Collins and his research team tracked their performance in the stock market over 40 years and was able to identify a set of 11 elite companies and the key factors that enabled them to make the leap from no-better-than-average results in their industry to great results and then sustain their top-ranked performance.
As depicted in the above Figure, Collins presents the good-to-great transformation as a process of build-up followed by breakthrough that can be broken-up into three broad and sequenced phases: disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action. Notably, each phase contains two key concepts and they begin with what he called “Level 5 Leadership”, a powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will, first and foremost for the cause, for the organization and its purpose, not for themselves (for more information on levels 1 to 5 leadership, click here or here).
Yet no matter how dramatic the end result, Collins’ research showed that good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. There was no single action, no revolutionary event, no solitary lucky break. Rather, it was always something akin to the relentless pushing of a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, building momentum as people are energized by the accumulation of visible results and good things lead to more good things, until a point of breakthrough and beyond (“The Flywheel Effect”).
I first read Good to Great in the summer of 2003, soon after NHLBI funded my Bypassing the Blues Trial to test the effectiveness of collaborative care for treating post-CABG depression. The book’s concepts encouraged me to rethink how I managed myself and how I selected, managed, and motivated staff and colleagues on my study team. I attribute these insights to the successful conduct of our Trial, and later to confront the brutal facts after a dry spell of unfunded grant submissions, and then apply the “Hedgehog Concept” to rebuild our study team and instill a culture of discipline that has led to our current success.
How do we take a good organization such as APS and turn it into a great organization? All of this begins with finding “Level 5 Leadership” and getting the right people in the right seats. Therefore, I am delighted to report that following a vigorous 90 minute discussion by the Nominating Committee on the merits of the proposed candidates, we were able to reach consensus on a slate of excellent individuals for each position. APS members, look for the announcement of this slate via email for your consideration and please vote!
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and productive 2019 and remember to register for Vancouver!
Bruce L. Rollman, MD, MPH
President, APS 2018/19
PS: “Flywheel Effect”: We received 637 abstract submissions to our 2019 Annual Meeting. This represents the largest number of abstracts submitted to our annual meetings in at least the past 10 years, and is approximately 50% more abstract submissions than we received at each of our last two annual meetings!
Special note of thanks to our Program Chair Sarah Pressman and to the rest of our Program Committee who rapidly reviewed all of these submissions, and to Laura Degnon, Sarah Shiffert, and the rest of their staff at Degnon Associates for their support. Let’s keep the momentum going for Vancouver 2019!