An Eye to the Future
The Johns Hopkins Hospital radiology department's Future Leaders program prepares employees to lead at all levels.
What makes a good leader? The ability to motivate a team by leveraging their unique talents? An instinct for achieving success, the result of long experience? A willingness to push colleagues to be the best they can be?
Managers within the Johns Hopkins Hospital radiology department have cultivated a path to leadership success through the formation of a learning track called the Future Leaders program. Established in 2006, the initiative has allowed over a hundred employees to move into positions of authority within the department.
Although the program has enjoyed a high degree of success with rank and file employees, its roots are in a concept designed for an entirely different group. When Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR, senior vice president of integrated healthcare delivery, chair of radiology, and radiological science at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, arrived in the department ten years ago, his initial intention was to organize classes to develop leadership skills in the department’s executives. But members of the department’s management staff saw potential for widening the program’s scope.
“The managers translated my ideas to the ancillary workforce, the people who do the actual work of the organization,” says Lewin. Members of this segment of the workforce include imaging technologists, registration staff, transporters, nurses, and IT staff. Within eight years, his willingness to allow the managers to run with their vision has paid off. “We believed — and we turned out to be right — that allowing people on the front lines to understand what leaders in their areas are trying to do gives them a new perspective on the organization,” explains Lewin. Instead of just thinking of managers as people who are constantly telling them what to do, participants in the program come to understand that leaders are in fact stewards who work on behalf of the employees to maximize the institution’s performance.
Alison Ramos, MBA, nuclear medicine technical manager in the Johns Hopkins Hospital radiology department and cochair of the program, was one of the key managers who orchestrated the launch of the Future Leaders program. She notes that the impetus behind expanding the program was simple. “We’re one big team,” says Ramos. “We couldn’t do our jobs as techs without the transporters, without the nurses.” According to Ramos, the classes help future leaders understand how the different divisions within the department interact, giving them a better appreciation for how the organization functions as a whole.
Not only does the program provide participants with practical leadership skills, but it helps to build camaraderie. Program co-chair LaKiesha Brown, MBA, Johns Hopkins imaging site manager at Green Spring Station, says that one of the most significant benefits Future Leaders participants gain is the knowledge that someone at work cares about their professional growth. Although candidates are nominated by their supervisors, Brown says the program has become so popular that the co-chairs have a waiting list of people wanting to join in. “Clinical managers know the value of the program, that people who take the courses walk away with a skillset,” asserts Brown, so employees intent on seeking promotions see the program as a way to get a leg up on the competition.
The curriculum includes sessions on a range of topics, such as team-building skills, how to give effective oral presentations, best practices for conducting meetings, time management, and the most effective ways to deal with difficult co-workers. Lewin explains that the skills imparted in these courses stay with employees long after their time in the program ends. “I’m a firm believer that leadership training is critical at every level of an organization,” Lewin says. “Only by understanding leadership can the students learn to become successful leaders themselves.”
By Chris Hobson