Leadership Is A Series Of Decisions

Leadership Is A Series Of Decisions


Leonard Zwelling

As the rain continues to pelt down on Houston, so has the criticism of Mayor Turner for not having evacuated the city. But the mayor has been quite clear about his decision processes.

First, where were people to go on Friday? The storm covered the immediate several hundred-mile area. You were as likely to drive into the storm as to drive out of it.

Second, as he so accurately said, you cannot put over 2 million people on the roads out of Houston and save lives. It is far more likely, as we saw before Hurricane Rita didn’t hit, that more people would die on the road than would ever be killed in a storm.

Third, it was the mayor’s call. From my vantage point in Bellaire, it appears to have been the right one. The mayor had two awful choices and took the lesser of the two evils. That’s leadership and he should be commended for what he has done to date.

As I once learned myself, leadership is a series of hard decisions. The higher you get in the food chain, the harder the decisions. That’s why every decision that reaches President Trump’s desk in the Oval Office is a hard one and it is also why his frivolous tweeting is so annoying. Doesn’t he have more important things to attend to then an old criminal sheriff from Arizona?

Dr. Pisters also has a series of tough decisions in front of him.

Here are several:

1. Is the current organizational chart at Anderson the right one to accomplish the mission? There are still an awful lot of vice presidents and senior vice presidents with less and less responsibility in their boxes than their predecessors had in theirs. I happen to think that Dr. Mendelsohn had this about right with a COO, CMO, CAO, CFO, a chief legal officer, and an IS guru. I was always taught that having no more than seven people report to you is a good idea. Five is even better. The current president has too many reports even if he splits them with the COO.
2. What to do with the empire left behind by Dr. DePinho? Operation Moonshot needs to go. All the commercialization and drug development nonsense that has not born fruit yet, probably will not. Dump it.
3. Who stays and who goes among the current faculty leadership? My suggestion is to set criteria for success over the next two years and see who makes the grade. There is no need to wreak havoc with the current Division Heads and department chairs unless the new president has specific plans in mind for a division or department that are incompatible with current leadership.
4. Which departments stay or go? I can imagine certain made-up departments that might benefit from consolidation with other departments. Go ahead with that.
5. Finally, what is the mission of MD Anderson in the president’s own words? This is perhaps the most critical decision of all. The relative weight given, and that means the expenditure of resources, toward clinical care, research, education, prevention and infrastructure is the most critical decision of all. It will affect everything and everyone. Choose wisely and deliberately, but do choose.

Leadership is a series of decisions. The success of any leader is based on the decisions he or she makes. But, not making decisions is also a decision, and it’s a bad one!

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