very encouraging. He made sure that I knew he felt I had the ca-pability. We often second-guess ourselves and lack confidence to
see ourselves in the next step in our career. When someone
you trust lets you know they feel you are capable, that means so
Fessell: Yes, sometimes other people see things in us that we
don’t actually see, and that can give us a lot of confidence.
Fessell: I know you’re really a strong proponent of emotional intelligence and reflection. How do you see that as impacting your
leadership? How do you develop that, and how do you use the
emotional intelligence skills now as you lead?
Meltzer: Leading is about people. Like many radiologists, I’m
an introvert and wasn’t always very comfortable being expressive around others, especially in front of large groups. That is
something I’ve really worked on. It is important as a leader to be
able to promote others publicly, to be able to support your faculty
and staff, and clearly communicate your support. I have worked
to be able to do that more comfortably. I know that people look to
me and if I’m silent when I should be encouraging, that’s not
good. I spend a lot of time reflecting. Did I carry out my meetings
today in the best way that I could have? Did I meet with faculty or
staff and convey my thoughts in a way that was sensi-tive to their needs? So I do a lot of self-reflection. I’ve also become
much better about my personal balance in life—making sure
that I have the time to sit and think, to self-reflect—because our
day-to-day demands are go, go, go, but self-reflection is absolutely critical to effective leadership.
Fessell: Do you have a particular way that you practice self-reflection? Do you block time or have a particular structure that
you use for reflection? How do you do it personally?
Meltzer: I do yoga and there is a meditative and self-reflective
aspect to that. I’ve been doing it for many years and that’s been
helpful. I must say I also am a student of leadership. When I’m
in various meetings with other leaders, I try very hard to watch
what they do and to observe what works well and what doesn’t
work well and to learn constantly.
Fessell: Such as the subtleties of body language and expressions, even micro expressions?
Meltzer: Exactly, I do a lot of work here in Emory on implicit and
unconscious bias, on making sure we communicate openly as a
group and that everybody has a chance to have his or her say—that
it’s not just those who are very vocal who get a word in at a meeting.
Lexa: Can you tell us a bit more about the formal ways you prepared for your leadership role, or things you would recom-mend people do to acquire leadership skills?
Meltzer: It is really important to have formal training. I was fortunate to participate in Executive Leadership in Academic
Medicine (ELAM), which is a national executive leadership program for women in academic medicine. It was a tremendous opportunity to really get some formal training in strategic planning,
financial management, how to conduct meetings, conflict resolution, and so forth. I have a network of folks I’ve kept up with so I
think of it as a lifelong journey that was started with ELAM. I’ve
also become involved with the Association of American Medical
Colleges, which is a superb resource for leaders in academic
medicine. We have had a radiology leadership academy in our
department for the past eight years. I participate both as an instructor and as a student. Although it is intended for training
young-to-mid-career staff and faculty in our department, I always
learn from the leadership lessons and the interactions and discussions that bring up really important points. It’s a constant
Lexa: Let’s imagine that a mid-career radiologist meets you at
the Radiological Society of North America and asks your advice
about becoming a chair. They may not even have an offer in hand
but they’re just thinking about taking that step. How do you advise someone who approaches you that way?
Meltzer: I try to understand their reason for wanting to be a
chair. Some people may think it is just doing the next step in their
career. They may think, “Wow, I’ll have the ability to control resources.” There are all kinds of reasons for wanting that kind of
position and I think sometimes people may not understand the
most important part of being chair, nor do they understand the
transition from serving as faculty and a faculty leader to being
chair. The fundamental change is giving up a lot of your own career ambitions to focus on promoting the development of others.
A person has to be ready for that if they’re going to be an effective
and successful chair. The biggest thing I ask people is, “What do
you want to accomplish? What are your reasons for it?” It isn’t a
negative that people want to achieve certain things in their career, but becoming a chair is not the way to promote your own
research because you will become much less productive, and it is
not the way to promote your own clinical expertise. You have to
give up a lot of your clinical time and that can be particularly difficult since many radiologists strongly identify our professional
worth with our clinical subspecialty skills. That was certainly the
hardest part for me, the part I had to really think about—was I
ready to really slow down my own career development and focus
on others? It’s also not a time of abundance of resources. Not that
I discourage people from becoming a chair; I just want to make
sure that if they want to do it, it is for the right reasons and that
Road to Leadership continues on p. 19
Road to Leadership continued from p. 12
When someone you trust lets you know
they feel you are capable, that means
so much.—Carolyn C. Meltzer