For Release: August 23, 2013
Contact: Derik Hertel, (603) 650-1211 or

Increasing Our Leadership Capacity at Geisel

Hanover, NH—Every organization has an inherent leadership capacity that can be increased through practice and hard work. The quality and quantity of leadership is an organic energy that circulates through the bloodstream of an organization and is arguably the most important predictor of organizational performance and success.

Dean Chip Souba, MD, ScD, MBA, is passionate about the subject of leadership and for the past few years has taught a leadership elective to medical students—this year, the elective will be offered both in the fall and in the winter. The course is an important part of Geisel's commitment to train the next generation of physician-leaders.

"There's an appetite for this kind of learning, because the focus in on leading yourself," says Cathy Pipas, MD, one of the course's faculty. "A fundamental premise is that personal change must precede organizational transformation."

Geisel's commitment to leadership extends beyond the school's curriculum with a very successful annual summer course—The Science and Practice of Leading Yourself. Highly interactive, the in-depth five-day course delves into the four pillars of being a leader—awareness, commitment, integrity and authenticity. "The customary emphasis," says Souba, "is on what leaders do. Action is critical for effective leadership but it needs to be grounded in 'being' a leader. It is impossible to act like a leader if you're not being a leader."

Souba, who has written dozens of peer-reviewed articles on leadership and has been teaching the topic for years, developed the course as part of Geisel's 2020 plan. Rather than teaching leadership from a third-person theoretical perspective the course teaches leadership as it is lived and experienced in the first person. "Learning leadership from a book is insufficient," he says. "You have to get on the court where the action is and where leadership happens."

This year's summer course, held at the Hanover Inn, was immensely popular.

"The lectures and small group discussions were powerful," says course participant Carolyn Drake, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia, NH. "We were pushed into a deeper personal understanding of how we bring ourselves to leadership challenges."

"It's as much about reaching your potential as a communicator as it is about leadership," adds Tim Lahey, MD, associate professor of medicine at Geisel. "At first, I walked in a bit skeptical, but as the course progressed I was impressed—it has influenced the way I listen to my patients."

Michele R. Lauria, MD, a faculty member in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, agrees. "Leadership is as much about you as it is about the situation—how to be more present with challenges and how to view them differently. It isn't a management course, it's a new way of thinking about life and understanding what defines you, what holds you back and what makes you effective," she says.

For Glenda Shoop, MS, EdS, director of learning services at Geisel, "The summer leadership course gave me the time to reflect on my leadership style, but not in the way we traditionally describe effective leadership," she says. "Dean Souba skillfully used language, metaphors, experiences and models to guide us. How I see myself as a leader has changed—I find myself thinking differently when I make decisions and pausing to consider my actions."

In the process of creating a new curriculum that sets the standard for a contemporary medical education, Souba is emphatic that "we must create leaders who will use the outstanding education they receive at Dartmouth to tackle health care's most thorny challenges."

For information about next year's leadership course visit the course website.

# # #

Return to News Releases