IN A BOOK PUBLISHED THIS SUMMER, Gerald S. Levey, M.D., dean emeritus of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and former vice chancellor of UCLA Medical Sciences, talks about the lessons he learned from nearly 16 years at the helm of one of America’s premier healthcare institutions.
Dr. Levey wrote the book as a business memoir intended to provide insights for leaders of all types of organizations. “The traits I identify are as relevant to business or government as they are to medicine,” he says. “Rather than going into details about issues like cost containment, patient satisfaction and quality of care, I wanted to share how a successful leader makes decisions and the role of the leadership team in achieving the institution’s goals.”
Never Be Afraid to Do the Right Thing: A Leadership Guide in an Age of Change and Challenge (Second River Healthcare Press) highlights the challenges Dr. Levey faced shortly after arriving at UCLA and being confronted with the damage caused by the 1994 Northridge earthquake. It soon became clear that a significant portion of Dr. Levey’s mandate would be overseeing the building of a new hospital. “In one fell swoop, the job I thought I was going to have completely changed,” he says.
The book’s title derives from Dr. Levey’s favorite business admonishment: He frequently advised members of his leadership team that more important than whether a decision turned out to be correct was whether it was “the moral, ethical and honest thing to do.” He argues that one of the most important traits of a strong leader is the ability to adapt to circumstances. “No one knows what the healthcare system will look like 10, 20 or 30 years from now,” he says. “But the leaders of that system are going to have to know how to adapt. If, for example, Medicare or Medicaid were drastically changed, they would have to figure out how to function at a high level in such a system.”
Never Be Afraid to Do the Right Thing is available from www.Amazon.com and www.SecondRiverHealthcare.com.