Chapter 03: The First Successful Leadership Retreat Demonstrates Need for Faculty Development

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Chapter 03: The First Successful Leadership Retreat Demonstrates Need for Faculty Development

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Ms. Yadiny explains that, in 2001, a team was put together to make a "last try" to set up a successful initiative. She discusses how the team went about creating a new faculty leadership program that would prove such an initiative could be effective and relevant to MD Anderson faculty. She sketches the process of finding the Executive Development Group. She explains that the team handpicked the sixteen people who would participate in the first retreat, held in The Woodlands. She notes that the response was immediate and unanimously positive and that the curriculum is still largely the same. She sketches other programs that came from that: the Administrative Leadership Program and the Heart of Leadership Program. Ms. Yadiny also begins to sketch how leadership initiatives at MD Anderson evolve within a politicized environment.

Identifier

YadinyJA_01_20160222_C03

Publication Date

2-22-2016

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - Building the Institution; MD Anderson History; Building/Transforming the Institution; Institutional Politics; Controversy; Discovery and Success; On Leadership; Leadership

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Janis Apted Yadiny:

So, in 1991, Margaret approached me and Steve Tomasovic and said, “I have convinced John Mendelsohn that we have to have a leadership development program, but this is the last time we’re going to try it, so this better work.”

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Okay, so that was 1991?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Oh sorry, 2001.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Okay, I just wanted to make sure that was 2001.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

No, 2001, right. So we put together a small team. We had the vice president of HR in there, Jim Dorn, and Bill Klein a chair, and Steve Tomasovic and myself, and I think Susan Gilbert was in that taskforce, and a few others. So it must have been eight or nine. Janet Bruner [oral history interview] was in there.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, she spoke a lot about all of this in her interview.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

We looked at various programs, we looked at elements of programs, we looked at business schools, and then nobody told us we needed to do a request for a proposal, so what we did was we organized conference calls with various consultants across the country. These were people, primarily I had identified by calling colleagues and just looking around out there. I don’t think there was any searching the Internet at that point, but so we did, I think four or five of these conference calls with various consultants, and the consulting group we ended up with, I called a wrong number. I thought I was calling this Randy White guy from the executive development group, but I called another executive development group in New Jersey, and I ended up talking to this woman who said, “What is it you want?” She had this very New Jersey kind of accent, “What is it you want?” Anyway, I said, “Well, I need a leadership development program for physicians and scientists,” and she said, “We do that. We’ve done that at the NIH, at Howard Hughes Medical Institute,” blah-blah-blah. She said, “What you need is you need a program for people who are individual contributors but haven’t any clue about what it means to be a manager or a leader.” I said, “Yeah, that’s it exactly.” So, Steve Sperling came down, flew himself down.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What was the group?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It was called Executive Development Group.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Executive Development Group, okay, and Steve Sperling you said?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

S-P-E-R-L-I-N-G. He came down and did a presentation to our little committee. Now, we had already spoken then, to three or four consultants. We had already spoken then, to three or four consultants. We had spoken to Dave Ulrich, that’s U-L-R-I-C-H, from University of Michigan, I had been at University of Michigan, so I knew about his work, and his partner, Norm Smallwood. Steve Tomasovic and I visited Norm Smallwood when we were out in Park City, Utah, so we had a good sense of him. They did something called results based leadership, so we talked to them. Dave was $20,000 a day, Norm Smallwood was $8,000 a day. This is in 2001 we’re talking about, right?

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Wow.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Then we talked to—

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

So are you getting the feeling we’re in the wrong field here? (laughs)

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Then we talked to George somebody or other in California, who was a partner with Randy White, and they done, I think they were doing a program at University of Southern California, and based on the work that Randy had done with Rice, it was kind of that kind of program. We liked George, we thought that was good, but we didn’t like the connection between Randy White, and he was coaching Dr. Mendelsohn and Kripke and Leon Leach, and the whole leadership team, and we said ah-ah, that connection, we didn’t want that connection.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Why not?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Confidentiality. A couple of people on the committee knew Randy. I didn’t even know him. Knew Randy White and just didn’t want to go there, they wanted to keep those worlds separate. So, and then we talked to another consultant, I can’t remember who the other one was, but they were all—and then Sperling came in and he was $2,500 a day, and not only that, he had no chip on his shoulder. He had nothing he was selling, like a leadership model, this is how you do it. He was quite willing to partner with us and oh, I know, Kathleen Sazama was on the group. Kathleen Sazama had also done ELAM. She was vice president for academic affairs here at that time. Kathleen insisted that we have a program that reflected some of ELAM, that had focus on self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and then other elements, you know we build off of that. I had never heard of that.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Is that unusual? I mean, as I was doing some of the background research, I found presentations that you had given and other people from Faculty Development had given, and it’s very striking, the portion of each that is focused on self-awareness. That was unusual?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

I don’t think it was unusual in the professional leadership development world. It was probably unusual in academic medicine, but there was very little in academic medicine that was going on at that time. Very few institutions had the money to put into these kinds of programs.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Interesting.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

But, the good programs were all featuring something about, you know it’s all about you, because you’re the instrument of leadership, so what do you know about yourself? The first retreat we did, I remember this was so funny. I remember Margaret circling up to Steve Tomasovic and myself, oh, no, Rob Sandefur and myself. She came up to us at a reception the night before we launched this, the first Leadership Academy, and she just said, “This better work.” I said, “It’s going to work, it’s going to work.” So the next day, we had a two and a half day retreat, we had it up at the Woodlands, and we made people stay overnight. We paid like $20,000 every retreat that we did up there, and the faculty complained like mad that they had to miss a weekend, be away from their families, drive all that way up there. We did the first five or six retreats up there and it worked out really well because they had to just concentrate on this stuff, yeah?

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, yeah. In disconnecting, there’s a real value in going through that symbolic process of disconnecting from your habitual life.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

You bet, you bet. So we had Mendelsohn in there, Leon Leach, we had Margaret in there. We handpicked the 16 people that we put in the program, apart from those leaders, and they were generally chairs, people who had been chairs three years or less, and then we put in a few people we thought would be easy adopters. Jan Bruner was one of them who was in the program, and it worked brilliantly well. It was fabulous because they came out saying, on Sunday morning, I didn’t know any of this stuff, this is exactly what I need to know, to be able to manage myself and my team.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What were some of the topics that were covered and what was the way of presenting it that really jazzed people or really had an impact?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It was very interactive, there were a lot of assessments. So they did a full Myers-Briggs and they got their feedback on that, it was hysterically funny. They’re all sort of, you know, well what’s your profile, what’s…

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

They’re all introverts.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

No!

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

They’re not?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

No. There were a lot of extroverts and Margaret and John and Leon, I think was an introvert, or ENTJ, there were a lot of ENTJs, which was telling, and then there were three Ss in the room, three out of all those people. I remember Steve Sperling saying, “This is why you have a thousand ideas a minute at MD Anderson, with all these intuitives, and three people to make the rubber hit the road.” The three people were Genie Kleinerman [oral history interview], Jeff Medeiros, and I’ve forgotten the third one, but and they just stood there and said…

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

I can’t be the only workhorse.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

And I’m sorry, I’m forgetting what S stood for.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Sensor.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

A sensor, okay.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah, so the detail oriented people, data analysis that kind of stuff, five senses, concreteness. Not the big picture. They see the trees, not the forest and all the other people see the forest, the hell with the trees, I have no interest in the trees. So, it was really so enlightening for everybody, everyone really enjoyed it, had a great time. We had great food and great dinners, lots of wine, and then very interactive.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well, and what I’ve always found is I know that at the time, Myers-Briggs, and even before then, Myers-Briggs was sort of being pooh-poohed and oh, it’s a hokey business thing. But what I found it did, whether or not you believed in the actual practical, what did each letter stand for, it was a great way of opening up a conversation about a team. You know, what do I do, what do you do, what does that person do, and how do we compensate for each other, how do we mesh in a work environment to get something done.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Well, and it’s all about preferences. I, as an introvert, prefer not to go to the bar at night and talk to a bunch of people, that is not going to energize me, but the ease, we’re all about oh, let’s—and they stayed downstairs at night and drank and talked and hung out, and the Is all scurried off after dinner. But they got the point that, Oh my God, I can be white, female, close to you in age, born on the same continent, educated similarly, and yet, you and I have less in common than this Nigerian guy sitting next to you, right? Because he sees, he’s an introvert too, and he’s an F, and he’s an NFP, just like me, and we process things very similarly, but not you, you’re an ESTJ, completely different. Your way of processing, seeing and energizing yourself and making decisions, what you base your decisions on, is completely different. It was mind altering for people. We chose the MBTI because it’s incredibly well validated all around the world, so it’s got a lot of research behind it. Now, you know, we do have faculty occasionally who will say oh, this is pseudo-science, but we go with it and say look, just play the game, because this is not about science right now, this is about preferences, we’re going to see how it works out.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What happened coming out of this? You have this retreat, everybody’s kind of jazzed, what, what—how did it start making itself known or what was the impact?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It was immediate.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Really, wow.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Margaret went into work Monday morning and the word on the street was so positive that her head was reeling, because she got nothing but congratulations, lots of emails, ‘Thank you so much, this was a fabulous program.’ ‘I don’t know how you put this together but this is amazing, these are the things we need to know about ourselves and other people.’ She just was swamped with positive feedback. There wasn’t one negative voice, and believe me, in the other two programs, in the one that was launched in 1998, she took unbelievable negative feedback from that she had to deal with. The Rice one, not so much, but there were a few negatives, but it was better than the Excellence in Leadership. So, she was thrilled and we picked an easy audience. These guys, one of them said, at the end of that retreat, “I would have not made it as a chair if I had not done this, because I was sinking, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Wow.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

There were others who felt the same way. It was like a big life raft was launched, you know, they all got in it, and that was just the first—that was the retreat to bond them, and then we had seven or eight more monthly sessions, so they went on from there. The outline of the program, we’re at our 15th cohort, is more or less the same. We’ve tweaked it, we’ve added content, we’ve adjusted things, but I can tell you, Tacey, it’s more or less the same, and it still works really well. People come out of there going, I wish I’d had this like 20 years ago, which is why now, you see there’s a big push nationally, to push what they call leadership development, self-development in a way, emotional intelligence and so on, down to the student level, so that you get students starting to be more aware of themselves and others, and then starting to understand that in order to really have the impact they think they want to have, they need to understand management and managing self and others, and leading others, and then leading managers, that’s another—you know, that it’s progressive, that there are skill sets you can acquire as you go up the leadership ladder, more sophisticated skill sets that you need, and it can be learned. So that, it just defined a whole new landscape for leaders at MD Anderson, and then two years later, a similar program was introduced to the staff, called the Administrative Leadership program, and that came out in 2004. And then 2004 also, because there was such a demand from other faculty saying I want this but I’m not a chair and I’m not a division head, so how do I get this, we designed the Heart of Leadership Program, which just took elements of the Faculty Leadership Academy and compressed them. So they got the interpersonal skills, the self-awareness, they got the MBTI, they got something on conflict resolution, using Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Then they got teamwork, had to establish what teams are all about, what makes teams function effectively. What else did we have in there? That was about it actually, it was a four-day program, now it’s four and a half days, we’ve expanded it a bit. So, we’ve been running these consistently since 2002. There was one stop, which is when we hit the finance problem in 2009, and I got a call from Adrienne Lang and she said, with great delight, I think, “We’re not doing to FLA next year, there’s no money.”

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Why? Why great delight?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

She was like that and she’s a friend of mine and I like her a lot, but she never believed in things like that, leadership development.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Interesting.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

I wasn’t then, knowledgeable enough to say—which I would say now. Knowledgeable enough to say this is a big mistake, you don’t pull money from an institution that’s—you don’t not do leadership development, because these people have to know how to manage their staff and faculty.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

They have to know how to save the institution.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Save the institution and keep the morale somewhat stable, right, but they pulled it one year, so there we are, we had that one year of hiatus. The first two years, we did two cohorts a year, that’s a lot of work.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Amazing, amazing.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah, just to kind of get a lot of people through it.

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Chapter 03: The First Successful Leadership Retreat Demonstrates Need for Faculty Development

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