by Kathy Ellerbeck, MD, FAAP
Greetings from the Kansas Chapter. This will be my last President’s Perspective column – in July, Dr. Bob Wittler will become President and he will write this column! I’ve been thinking about my past few years as Vice President and President for the KAAP- and all that I’ve learned from and about the AAP. I’ve learned something about my strengths and weakness – and the things that I need to learn to continue to grow as a leader and advocate for children.
Things I’ve learned:
- Leadership is hard work
I learned that leadership is hard work. For everybody and not just me. Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of a program developed and administered by the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) called “For the Common Good”. One of our assignments was to watch a set of videos. And one of the videos differentiated “technical work” from “adaptive work”. I’d never really thought of it that way. Technical work is the stuff I’m used to as a physician – you know what’s wrong and you fix it, or you know what makes sense based on evidence – and you do that. You know – like vaccines save lives (so get them) and fluoride saves teeth, (so put it in the Wichita water supply)! Adaptive challenges are much more difficult. I liked one definition in the For the Common Good Workbook …“technical problems live in people’s heads and logic systems. They have clear cut solutions. Adaptive challenges live in people’s hearts and stomachs. They are about values, localities and beliefs. Progress on them requires the people with the challenge to do the work, and work usually involves refashioning those deeply held beliefs.” So it takes engaging stakeholders who see things differently. Which is hard work. I am excited about what more I’ll learn from the KLC course. I also know that I’m more prepared than I would have been three years ago to take it, because I’ve already had some mentoring.
- Mentors matter.
In my first President’s Perspective column I thanked Dennis Cooley and Pam Shaw for their guidance. I should thank them again in this last column.
I’ve learned a great deal from Dennis about lots of things. With regards to his legislative expertise, I’ve learned how the Kansas Legislature works – and how to “pick your battles”. I’ve also learned something about how to constructively negotiate with persons I disagree with on legislative topics – rather than just walking away in a huff. I’ve learned that you can’t win (anything) if you don’t play. Our Chapter has contributed to a long list of legislative successes for children and their families. Dr. Cooley’s leadership and testimony has often been important to those successes. Dr. Cooley also now chairs the KAAP Development Committee for the KAAP’s Turn-A-Page, Touch-A-Mind program, and he brings our voice to D.C. as a member of the Committee of Federal Government Affairs.
I’ve also learned that you also don’t have a voice if you don’t speak up. Pam Shaw has brought us a louder voice as she’s become District VI Chair for the AAP. She’s organized monthly calls for discussion of hot topics and provides information on what the AAP Board of Directors is thinking about/working on. Chapters in our District now share ideas – and successes and failures in ways that I don’t think really happened before. I hope that you saw the first District VI Newsletter which Pam Shaw kicked off with her article on poverty.
Chris Steege and Mel Hudelson have also been fabulous (and kind) mentors. The Kansas Chapter really works because they work for the Kansas Chapter. Chris Steege has taught other Chapters about Strategic Planning…and I’m better at thinking that way than I was before. She and Mel Hudelson write grants – and helps others write grants – that further the KAAP’s mission. Collaborating with Drs. Lauer and Sheurmann at KU Medical Center, the KAAP just received a $79,000, 2 year grant for their application for “Smokefree for Kansas Kids”. Chris and Mel also provide needed oversight for to ensure grant success. I’ve needed and benefited from their guidance and continued support on the Baby Buffer Social Media grant.
I’ve also learned from the members of our Board of Directors. The KAAP BOD is an enthusiastic and vocal group – passionate about everything from TAP-TAM to matters that affect pediatric practice. We have great representation on the BOD from across Kansas. And I know from listening at BOD meetings to Bob Wittler and Jen Mellick that they will be fabulous as President and President Elect for the KAAP. I’ve also learned that Robert’s Rules of Order really DO matter at BOD meetings and that I really DO need to memorize them. A little late to learn this, but it may come in handy for the future. Robert’s Rules of Order for Dummies now sits on my shelf.
- Principles of leadership
Finally, I learned that anyone can be a leader. I have a little bi-fold card from the For the Common Good course to remind me of that. I’ll leave you with the leadership principles:
- Leadership is an activity, not a position.
- Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.
- It starts with you and must engage others.
- Your purpose must be clear.
- It’s risky.
The KAAP needs your thoughts, your ideas, your technical solutions and your proposals for solving adaptive problems in your communities – in other words, your leadership. Thank you for all you do for Kansas kids.