Chapter 16: Growth as a Leader

Title

Chapter 16: Growth as a Leader

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Description

Ms. Yadiny evaluates her own growth as a leader since she "began as a freshman" in Faculty Development at MD Anderson in 1999. In this Chapter she also talks about the importance of emotional intelligence. She begins by discussing what she learned about herself by handling challenging leadership situations. She talks about her (excellent) working relationship with Robert Tillman [Associate Director, Faculty Development] and describes how some problems arose because of her strong working relationship with Janet Simon. She notes a theory that in workplaces, individuals recreate their family of origin around them. Ms. Yadiny then talks about the importance of the emotional brain to leadership development. She notes that she reads a sacred literature to learn more about this and that MD Anderson can "shrink" this dimension of self. She talks about conversations she has with a psychologist who is also a practicing shaman, José Luis Stevens, when she senses distance from her emotional brain. She tells an anecdote about discussing a work challenge with Provost Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD. She lists the serious consequences leaders face if they do not cultivate the emotional dimensions of themselves.

Identifier

YadinyJA_03_20160404_C16

Publication Date

4-4-2016

Publisher

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

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - The Administrator; Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents; Faith; Discovery, Creativity and Innovation; Faith, Values, Beliefs; Evolution of Career; Personal Background; The Leader; Professional Values, Ethics, Purpose; Critical Perspectives; Education; On Education; Leadership; On Leadership; Mentoring; On Mentoring; Obstacles, Challenges; Understanding the Institution; The Professional at Work

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

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

Transcript

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

I was going to ask you, just to kind of talk about your own evolution as a leader, you know learning about strengths and your weaknesses, you know, and I’ll ask you about some particular areas of challenge too. What’s the process been like for you?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It’s been uneven, I have to say. I think I’ve had significant growth in this job in particular, since 1999. They brought in a real freshman in terms of faculty development and leadership development, they bet on me, you know, and I was very lucky that they bet on me, and for me it was very tough, just like going through a chair position. There were a lot of things I had to learn, a lot of things I had to learn about myself, and a lot of things I learned about myself under stress.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What did you learn?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

I learned that I too, can play the enrollment game, when I feel stressed and challenged and scared.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

And that meaning?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Call up a colleague and say, do you know what just happened to me, have you ever had… You know, have you ever have—did you ever have that happen to you, do you know this person, do you know what this—you know, that kind of stuff. I’ve had to sit down and have some very difficult conversations—fortunately for me, I’ve learned how to have difficult conversations—with colleagues who were looking competitive, like they wanted to eat my area or absorb me.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

How did you handle that kind of situation? I mean, I know you probably don’t want to mention names or anything, but just in a generic sense, a strategy.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

By saying, Is this what I’m seeing? I’m starting to feel a little encroached upon here, and I don’t know if that’s what you really intend to do. I know we are in parallel areas, where it could be really difficult for us to work together. I certainly don’t want to undermine your position, I want you to be successful in what you’re doing. You know, so I’ve had colleagues be able to say to me oh no, no, I don’t mean to, you know, but in a sense what was happening was equal competition, you know, and areas were set up that were competitive and could easily have created a whole lot of distress for us. It took some real developing of a more mature personality, to be able to handle those things and have those difficult conversations. Now I find, even working with my team, you know there’s further growth that’s needed, because my associate director, whom I think very highly of and have full confidence in, he approaches work very differently than I do. He’s a much better manager than I am.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Is this Bob Tillman?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah. I’m a good leader in many ways, because I’m intuitive and I’m creative, and I’m risk-taking. He dots the Is and crosses the Ts. He’s also a big thinker. So, you know, and I have to—I really respect the way Bob has approached this. He came in, he was the faculty development person at Columbia, but he didn’t have a whole lot of people reporting to him, he didn’t have a team. So, he’s managed to graciously learn things, and I think sometimes, he hasn’t had the best, the closest—he hasn’t been managed by me, you know, because I don’t manage, but he’s appreciated my perspective on things and I’ve learned to share that perspective with Bob openly. Here’s what I see going on and I do know the politics pretty well. I think I’ve done a pretty good job, Tacey, of saying to myself, okay, I need to get out of the way of Bob, and I need to make sure Bob gets enough legroom here, authority and autonomy, to function without me. So, I’ve given myself some credit for some things, but I’ve also seen how, you know, I could have done a better job bringing him onboard.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Tell me, let’s go back to that kind of early time and you know, tell me some other ways in which you’ve—moments in which you’ve learned about yourself or have noticed growth in a particular area.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Well, I noticed, as we started bringing on more people in 2005, 2006, that I allowed my relationship, for instance, with Janice Simon, to color a lot of what I did, because she was my first hire. And I kind of understand what this new chair is going through, because it’s not that Janice and I became personal friends and hung out with each other, we didn’t, but she would hang out with me as a leader and it was difficult for me to see how threatening that was to other people, that they felt I had this special relationship with her. In a way I did and I relied on her for a lot of things that I wasn’t so good at or didn’t have time to do, and it’s only in looking back that I see how that must have felt to newer people, that she had a step up on them, you know, that she was the favorite.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, I’m making this connection to an article I read this morning, I think it was, in the New York Times, about parents having favorite children and what that can do in terms of sibling rivalry, and just what you were describing reminds me a lot of that.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah, and it’s like that, there are people that you are just… Yeah. I know my mother liked my brother better than me, but she loved me, it wasn’t that she didn’t love me. She just found me more difficult. He was kind of, you know, he was the baby, and he was a goof-off, so he figured out how to handle my mother by being goofy.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well, I just you know, think of the way siblings will compete or try to get attention, or try to outdo one another, to attract the attention of the authority.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

To get their needs met, yeah, to get the attention, acknowledgement, they need.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Exactly.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

So it happens in teams too. We had a consultant a few years ago, and I spent a lot of time talking to him and he gave me his books and his CDs and everything else, and he studied with a very radical psychiatrist in the ‘60s. Walter Baile told me the name Tad or Ted, somebody, Radovich, or something like this. Anyway, this guy’s opinion was that you create your family of origin around you, you recreate it in ways that are unknown to you, until you take a really deep dive into yourself and deal with your own intimacy issues.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yikes.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

It’s very interesting. He called it fifth wave leadership, and so he had what—he calls them accountability groups, but they were like encounter groups. And when he works with—he’s got an accountability group he’s worked with in some corporation, for 30 years or something, and I’ll tell you, those are rigorous. They meet once a week or once a month or something and it’s really open, like bare your chest. You know, I screwed up here, I talked about you behind your back and didn’t get this done or that done. Wow! And there is like no way you could do that kind of thing here, but you can get groups to say, you know I’m sorry, I messed up on that, I should have gotten that piece of the grant done and I didn’t. People can hold forth on their accountability, but they’re just not going to go that deep. Now, there could be departments or groups that do work like that here. I’m just not about to try to encourage them to do it, because it could be so unsafe.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Right.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Right, very unsafe. And that’s where I was headed when we talked about what we would talk about in this session, talking about the rational brain versus the emotional, instinctive brain. So why do I—you know, I read widely, in various sacred literatures, and I have done a lot in terms of Buddhist studies and meditation and even Shamanism, why? Because I do believe that there are those different parts of the personality, and here, at a place like this, you can get that emotional instinctive part stamped out or shriveled, it can shrivel up on you, and boy, if you let that happen and you’re functioning just out of the rational side of your brain, you’re missing out on a core piece of knowledge for yourself and for other people as well. You need to bring those things together. That’s why, from time to time, I do talk to somebody who’s a clinical psychologist and a shaman, out of New Mexico. When do I do it? I do it when I think I’m missing some messages, that I’m not bringing in the messages that I need to hear, that will help me function out of my full self.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Can you give me an example of a time when you called on this shaman?

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah, like last week. (both chuckle) Yes and you know, so what was the question I wanted to ask him? It was really about my work here at MD Anderson, and how I should move forward, and my relationship with Bob, and how I should, you know, approach my last, what could be my last couple of years of work in this institution. He said you know—he reframed it for me, because I can get really down on myself, and I thought you know, I’m being a hindrance to Bob, I should quit. I should quit and get out of his way entirely. I had really been thinking, no I need to reframe my job. I went to the provost [Ethan Dmitrovsky] with my boss and I had a new job description and I said here’s what I want to do, and I want to promote Bob, and he was a hundred percent for it, he totally supported me, and he was very insightful as a matter of fact. He said, “How long has Bob been here?” I said, “About three years.” And I told him that I’d bring him in and he’d replace me, and he said, so I don’t want to hear about when you may go, this is not a conversation about that, but in the meantime, he said, “Five years for Bob is too long and I’m glad you want to promote him.” He said, “I did that once, I brought in somebody and said it would be five years and I realized after three, it was too long, so is Bob chafing?” I said, “You know, Bob is too gracious to chafe in an obvious way, but I think Bob does feel restricted and I want to make room for him to do more.” He said, “Give him everything. Give him signing authority, give him management authority, give him team management, let him do it all. You focus on this leadership development stuff that we need done and the team science, and the other things you’ve outlined in this job description and let him do all the other stuff.” It lifted a huge weight off me, but at the same time, I still felt like hmm, am I doing enough? So, obviously, Ethan thought I was doing enough by doing this other stuff, because he didn’t say oh by the way, I’m going to take the AVP title away from you. No, no, no, he did not say that. He said we’re going to promote Bob, you keep this and do what you’re doing. He said, I don’t want to hear what—you know, if you decide not to retire in two years that’s fine, blah-blah-blah, I don’t need to know that. So he was very supportive of me and afterwards, Ethan came up to me at the Kripke Legend Award and he said, “I hope I was appropriate in that meeting, I didn’t mean to imply.” I said, “You were so insightful, it was really helpful, Ethan, it was really helpful.” He really was helpful and I appreciated the question, “Is Bob chafing?” Because he hit it, he hit the nail on the head, and he gave me the space to do what I want to do and he was behind that, and he gave Bob the space to be promoted and do what Bob needs to do. I shared that with Bob, and I think it was a relief to him, and a relief to me.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Well, it’s kind of a staggering, you know, transparency, and support. It’s like okay, everybody talk about where they are, and now we’re going to try to create a situation in which everybody gets what they need and everything is fair, everybody’s respected. Wow!

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Right. Now, I think Bob, he—I haven’t asked him, but I think he would like to be in charge of the whole thing, you know the leadership development and everything. But I said to him, you and I will work on this together, so I’m not going to carve it out and you’re not going to be involved. I need him involved, because he is going to be running it, and the way it shapes up in the future has to match up with the way he feels it should be done. So when we do this RFP in the summer and we look at new vendors and so on, and we shape the new program, Bob will be intimately involved in that because the person who will be running the new program and then coming up with newer programs is Bob, presumably is Bob. Now, what I was asking my shaman friend about. Now mind you, this guy is a UC Berkeley clinical psychologist, you know, who has spent 30 years also, in the realm of shamanism, so he brings those two worlds together and he works in the corporate sector a lot, and in healthcare, doing leadership development.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Do you want to share his name? I mean it’s fine if you don’t.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah, he’s José Luis Stevens and he runs a group called the Power Path of Shamanism. So, when I called him, I said you know, I worry about maybe being in the way, am I really relevant, and he said, “Okay, let’s reframe that.” You are really in the perfect place for you right now, and I’m going to encourage you to do it your way. You’ve already, you’ve won the—you know, you’ve done it. So as you work on this next phase, do it your way. You don’t need to compete with Bob and this other guy, Chris, you know okay, they’re young guys. One is 44, one’s 42, they’ve got a lot of energy and a lot of things to prove yet.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

And a lot of time.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

And a lot of time. You’re not in that, you’re in a different phase, so sit back and enjoy it. Do the work you want to do but you don’t have to be in at six in the morning or six-thirty in the morning. You don’t have to stay until six-thirty at night, you’ve done all that. If you want to get up—I said, I’d really like to get up in the morning and go work out and get in at eight, he said, “So do it, do it the way you want to do it, enjoy it, enjoy this.”

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

What a nice thing to be given permission to do.

Janis Apted Yadiny:

Yeah, well, and the thing is, he knows me well enough to say are you going to give yourself permission to do it that way, but you don’t need to do it their way, because they’re at a very different stage in life. Now, you know, Tacey, I’ve been doing—it’s not like I’ve got a full handle on the department right now, Bob’s been doing a lot of this already, so the job I have is big enough that it does take a good ten hours a day, really, to do it the way it should be done, nine hours a day say, and I put in an hour or two maybe three times a week, at night, and I put in five or six hours on the weekend. I can’t see, even in the next two years, that I’m going to stop doing that, because I would feel like I wasn’t getting stuff done otherwise, and I can’t stand it, when I come in and I don’t know—you know, everything feels out of control. But he was telling me, José, you know, step away from this person who feels like she should beat herself up and suffer, you know, from stress, and do it in another way that is really more healthy for yourself. So that’s my challenge, is to really do it that other way, and to allow myself personal growth, because I’m in a different, a much different phase of life than they are and I would love to, wherever I am, look down on them when they’re 68 and see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

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Chapter 16: Growth as a Leader

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