Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Joseph B. Martin's Guide for Listening and Leading

Joseph Martin culminated his decade as dean of the Faculty of Medicine with a Class Day address titled “Leading by Listening.” After commenting on the visceral importance of stories in patient care, he described six qualities of leadership at the heart of doctor–patient interaction.

“Your ability to communicate—listening and telling—will determine in large measure your gift for healing,” he said.

Though offered to the new physicians and dentists as a framework for future practice, Martin’s points also appeared to illuminate his own guiding principles as leader of HMS.

The first of the qualities, which he referred to as quotients, or Qs, was IQ. Martin said, “IQ implies ability to innovate, to think outside the box, and to construct new and novel scenarios.”

Yet intelligence alone is not sufficient for effective leadership. “Individual brilliance may result in earth-shaking concepts, discoveries, and Nobel prizes, but of leaders we expect even more.”

The next Q was EQ, Emotional Quotient. Put simply, Martin said, this is “the ability to listen and to discern beneath the surface what the other person is really saying.”

Elaborating, he said, “EQ includes sufficient temerity and curiosity to want to understand another’s perspective. It includes wanting to learn from another in order to ‘put right’ one’s own views and impressions. EQ is learning to lead by listening and observing.”

But such gravitas occasionally needs a break, and this is where HQ, or Humor Quotient, comes in. “It encompasses the ability to use self-deprecation to accomplish an end, to exude a sense of lightness of being and charisma, of good cheer and hope. It is the ability to detoxify a situation by humor or self-effacement, to know how to relax the tension with a comment, a story, or a well-told joke. It is the ability to bounce back after an untoward event.”

Following naturally from humor was number 4, the CQ—Contentment Quotient. “This is the ability to view things for the best possible outcome—it’s the glass half full, not half empty—optimism, not pessimism. It is to feel good about oneself and the role one plays. It balances good will and good cheer with an appropriate balance of anxiety to set things on course and to toe the line toward an end.”

Martin’s number 5 was GQ—Generosity Quotient. “In many ways a singularity of leadership success is epitomized in the term ‘vicarious living.’ Simply put, it is the joy and satisfaction that comes from watching the success of others.

“In an organizational setting or an effective office practice, it implies freely giving credit where credit is due, recognizing that ‘there is no end to what can be accomplished if one does not care who gets the credit.’

“There is another aspect of the Generosity Quotient, the ability to forgive and forget,” he said.

Finally, number 6 was WQ—or Wisdom Quotient. “This is the ability to sum things up, to look at a set of circumstances and know when to act, to know when the vectors are aligned to take the next step toward the end game.”

He continued, “It includes the ability to understand and know when to apply Machiavellian principles to reach a good end for the circumstances. But WQ also applies the principles of fairness, of reaching the decision that is the best for the most, characterized by equity and equality when possible. Wisdom is sound judgment, a great skill in clinical medicine.”
Martin concluded, “Each of the areas I have emphasized: intelligence, emotional connectivity, good humor, happiness, generosity, and sound judgment can be enhanced by good listening.

“I’m not implying that these traits or attributes are necessarily quantifiable as quotients. But I do hope they’ll form a framework or set of guideposts as you carry on with the great journey of life.”

The complete text of Dean Joseph Martin’s talk is available on the web.

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