The Shrink Will See You Now                        April
4, 2013

By

Leonard Zwelling

            Kim
Ghatta was a State Department reporter during the four years that Hillary
Clinton served this nation as that department’s Secretary. She has just written
a new book called The Secretary about
that experience. Ms. Ghatta was interviewed by Bob Edwards this morning on his
radio program.

            In
one of the book’s early chapters whose title I stole for this blog, Ms. Ghatta
talks about Secretary Clinton’s first trip to Pakistan. The Secretary
purposefully had her staff schedule meeting after meeting with the press in
this Muslim country with whom we had had highly volatile relations. The
Secretary took any and all questions, many harsh, direct and not at all
flattering to the United States. Nonetheless, Mrs. Clinton handled them all
with her immense skill and a great deal of humility. She admitted prior
mistakes by the United States in the region and pledged to improve
relationships.

            The
Pakistani press had greater access to the American Secretary of State than it
had to its own country’s leaders. Over the course of her visit the criticism
quieted down and her conciliatory stance had the desired effect of taming a
rabid beast. She had decided to put herself in the line of fire and it proved therapeutic
for her country’s less than reliable ally. That’s diplomacy. Rather then bemoan
what the Obama Administration inherited in ill will from the Bush Era, she
pressed the reset button and took the heat.

            This
lesson in leadership is one that our current MD Anderson Executive Committee
might entertain. The problems reflected in the faculty morale survey did not
start with Dr. DePinho’s arrival, but he hasn’t made it better for a host of
reasons that are not worthy of further commentary. His predecessor left a huge
rift between the faculty and the leadership that needed a great effort at
healing. This has yet to occur. The stance of reconciliation and admitting to
past errors taken by Secretary Clinton in Pakistan has not been reproduced on
the ground here at MD Anderson.

            This
evening could be the start. If the leadership approaches this forum in a
fashion analogous to the manner in which Secretary Clinton approached her
Pakistan trip by listening more than talking, by answering any and all
questions, by admitting past errors and by outlining ways to move forward in
tandem with the goals of the faculty considered not just those the
administration, this could be the start of something big.

            If,
however, the leadership once again talks about its plans, the Moon Shots, and
the expansion of the physical plant as if they were the desire of the faculty not
their own, and the need to crank up the clinical throughput to pay for it, they
will have squandered an opportunity to turn a vital corner.

            So
it isn’t behaviors like Jack Kennedy’s that the faculty may be seeking. Perhaps
it is more the wisdom and actions of Hillary Clinton that can save the day.

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