Learning to Lead: Top 10 Tools and Tips from AAMC’s 2016 Early Career Women Faculty Professional Development Seminar (EWIMS)


Early Career Academic Women in Medicine taking time for wellness with a Zumba class at EWIMS 2016.

Guest Blog by Elizabeth Magnan, MD, PhD, Department of Family and Community Medicine

Women in Medicine are a growing group, however there remains a gender disparity in leadership roles, as nationally 47% of medical students are women, yet 38% of faculty are women, and only 15% of chairs and 16% of deans are women. AAMC’s (American Association of Medical Colleges) GWIMS (Group on Women in Medical Sciences) holds an annual Professional Development Seminar to teach leadership skills and provide academic medicine career tools to early career women in medical science.  Additional leadership workshops and seminars for mid and senior career women are available through the AAMC, including the Mid-Career Women Faculty Development Seminar and Executive Development Seminar for Deans, as well as through Drexel’s ELAM Fellowship program (Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine),

Dr. Crystal Ripplinger (Department of Pharmacology) and I (Depart of Family and Community Medicine), represented UC Davis at this year’s seminar. The conference was four inspiring days of leadership education, networking and career guidance. It was a wonderful professional development opportunity, and I encourage anyone to take advantage of it or similar opportunities to grow as academics and leaders.

Below are the Top 10 Tools and Tips I have brought back from the conference.

  1. Know your personality type, and the personality types of your colleagues. You and your colleagues are your greatest “tools” and understanding personality types is a key to successful communication and optimal productivity. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, there are 4 temperament types, and 16 personality types. These types each have a preferred work environment, communication style, value base and approach to work. For example, those who are “NF” (intuitive more than sensing, and feeling more than thinking) seek collaborative environments, autonomy, and personable interactions. The SJ temperament type (sensing more than intuition, and judging more than perceiving) prefer structured environments, hierarchical roles, and succinct communication.  No type is better or worse for being a leader in academic medicine! Knowing and employing your strengths, tempering your potential pitfalls as a leader, and being cognizant of your colleagues’ styles will enhance interactions and increase productivity and work satisfaction.

Learn more about MBTI personality types:


  1. Use the Inbox Zero approach to email to optimize time and mental energy for other work. This approach means not using your email inbox as a storage location for old email, and handling all emails to the farthest point you can immediately after reading them the first time, so that your inbox is empty at the end of every day. To do this, only open your email when you have time to deal with the messages. Check your email in the morning before arriving at your office but not first thing after arriving in the office – this time is for your most high-priority work. Then check your email up to twice an hour during the day, and at least 2 times a day.  Do not check constantly or you won’t be able to complete other work. Open emails from newest to oldest, go in order without skipping, and completely handle the message (delete, respond, file) before moving to the next.  Create files for your different projects and file emails appropriately. If the message requires a response from someone else, keep a folder for emails “waiting for responses.”  To start on Inbox Zero, you only need to file messages from the most recent 6 weeks, and the rest can go into a deep storage file.

Learn more on Inbox Zero and email management:

http://www.thrivingamidstchaos.com/files/Getting-email-under-control.pdf    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9UjeTMb3Yk

  1. Do 12 yoga poses seated or standing in your office daily. Short yoga breaks help reduce pain from sitting and working at a computer, increase energy, and improve focus. To be at our cognitive best, we must be at our physical and emotional best too. See the below article written by our EWIMS Yogi for a complete list of the 12 seated and 12 standing poses.

The yoga poses: http://www.prescriptionyoga.com/Site/Musings_From_My_Mat-_Blog/Entries/2013/6/13_LVII._Yoga_Breaks_to_Relieve_Conference_Aches_and_Pains.html

  1. Use pre-negotiation prep work and a standardized approach to negotiation to optimize negotiations. Before going into a negotiation, whether with your Chair, clinic manager, colleague, student, or child, do prep work. First, consider your default conflict-handling  style, that of the person you are negotiating with, and what the best approach is. The five major styles are: competing, collaborating, compromising, accommodating, and avoiding. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

 Then follow these general steps:

  1. Consider if this topic is worth a negotiation to you, you are likely to succeed by improving your position and the costs if the negotiation is unsuccessful.
  2. If you proceed, start with a specific, quantifiable request. Not “a raise” but “a raise of X dollars.” Know what you want, and what is the least you can accept.
  3. Support your request with facts.
  4. Consider what the other person values and needs, and what their reservations to your proposal
  5. Watch for negative emotions to rise. Do not negotiate when you or the other person is frustrated or sad. If these emotions arise, stay calm. Ask the other person what their perspective is. Apologize for misunderstandings, and thank them for sharing their perspective and working with you towards your combined greater goal. It might even be helpful to take a break from the negotiation and return to small talk. It is always ok to end the conversation and return at a more productive time.

Learn about conflict-handling styles:  http://www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/overview-thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument-tki

  1. Use the AAMC CV template and keep your CV up to date. Your CV is you and your accomplishments on paper, and serves as the backbone for your NIH biosketch, personal statements, recommendation letters, and award applications. It should be easy to read. The AAMC has an excellent template, and feel free to design your own, as long as it is clear. If you need to use a UCD or department-specific format, keep a CV in a more general format for external use. Update this with each new activity and accomplishment, or at least weekly, so that it is ready to go at any opportunity that arises.

CV template: https://www.aamc.org/members/gfa/faculty_vitae/150034/preparing_your_curriculum_vitae.html

  1. Use a solution-focused model. In many institutions, there is a “knowing-doing gap” where a problem is recognized and discussed, and discussed and discussed, but no action is ever taken. To facilitate change, avoid complaining or criticizing without also putting forth a suggested solution. If you do not have a solution, ask others for ideas. Then take responsibility for moving the chosen solution forward.

Read more on the Knowing-Doing Gap:


  1. Use a multiplier, not a diminisher, approach to leadership. Multipliers bring out the best in others by: attracting and investing in talented individuals, challenging people to think creatively, creating intense environments that give people the opportunity to stretch, driving decisions through collaborative debate, giving others ownership over results, and building collective intelligence in organizations. Diminishers, in contrast: hoard resources, underutilize talent, create tense work environments that suppress thinking, give “know it all” directives and micromanage, make centralized decisions that confuse the organization, and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence. Multipliers get twice the capabilities from people than diminishers who only get 45% effort from others. Being a multiplier can be learned!

Read more on becoming a Multiplier:


  1. Speak with I-POP and prep with power poses.
  • I-Intention: remember your main purpose (e.g., inform, persuade, entertain), and consider your audience.
  • P-Presence: use powerful body language. Stand tall with shoulders back, arms at your sides and feet grounded. Using a Power Pose ahead of time reduces cortisol and increased testosterone. Stand with feet planted and hands on hips (superwoman) or stretch high (jumping jack) for 2 minutes before a presentation or meeting.
  • O-Open your mouth: use your jaw not just your lips to speak, and raise your volume with breath support from your diaphragm instead of tightening your throat.
  • P-Pithy messages: short, powerful and succinct messages with a strong hook (e.g., a story or startling statistic).

Watch more about Power Poses, body language and presence: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en – t-1220798

  1. Use assertive communication. Declarative sentences show confidence in your message. Try “I will” and “I am confident that” rather than “I think” and “I feel.” Avoid minimizers (“just”) and over-explaining.  Use “thank you” rather than “I’m sorry” when appropriate (e.g., “Thank you for your patience” rather than “I’m sorry I’m late.”) Stay neutral and on message, and avoid getting pulled into an emotional battle. Use the same tone and intonation as you would to say “It’s raining outside.”

Watch assertive, neutral communication in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gCPhlxoLxw

  1. Reverse and prevent burnout. Burnout is serious, and a major cause of talent loss in academic medicine. However, it is a state of being, and does not have to be permanent. Learn to identify early signs of burn out in yourself and others. Key symptoms are: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and cynicism, and a feeling of low personal accomplishment. Although prevention is key in burnout, burnout can be reversed once identified, especially if caught early. Burnout is a community problem, not an individual problem, and we must work together to create a positive community that prevents and reverses burnout.

Rx for burn out:

  1. Aim to have a high-control, high-demand position that is based on your values, and where you feel like a valued contributor – these jobs are burnout-resistant.
  2. Create unity within your identity, rather than separating parts of yourself (e.g., physician, partner, mother, researcher). Do not think in terms of work-life balance, consider that your work and your profession are fundamental parts of your life!
  3. Continue to take time for yourself, your hobbies and your family.
  4. Keep your energy positive, whether it is high when performing or low when renewing. This requires a balance of a healthy work environment and active self-care. Remember that we role-model leadership and positivity through our behaviors every day, and we contribute to the culture we are in.

Test your current burnout symptom level:


(Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1981). The measurement of experienced burnout. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 2, 99-113)

In closing, one more pearl from the conference. Throughout the conference, we were repeatedly reminded to remember our passion and what motivates us in our careers and lives. Write this down, keep it in your office or phone, and reference it to fuel yourself through the next paper, grant, or meeting. Share it with your colleagues and your learners, to spread the inspiration, and role model leadership. We can all lead from where we are.

For additional information and resources on how UC Davis is supporting the careers of women faculty, including upcoming professional development opportunities for women faculty, visit our web site –Women in Medicine and Health Sciences (WIMHS) Program– at https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/wimhs.

By | 2017-06-19T23:05:32+00:00 July 26, 2016|Uncategorized|