Submitted: 31 January 2017
Three interview sessions: 22 February 2016, 1 March 2016, 4 April 2016.
Total approximate duration: 4.5 hours
Interviewer: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.
For supplementary materials:
Please contact, the Historical Resources Center, Research Medical Library:
Javier Garza, MSIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Interview Subject:
Janis Apted Yadiny, MLS (b. 12 January 1948, Toronto, Canada) came to MD Anderson in 1999 to establish the new area of Faculty Development. Since 2008 she has served as the Associate Vice President of Faculty and Academic Development. In this interview, Ms. Yadiny talks about her strategies for developing leadership training for faculty at a time when little was available to support this in academic medical centers. She talks about the philosophy of the MD Anderson approach to leadership and traces its growth and impact over the course of her career. She also reflects on her own style and history as a leader, and how this has influenced the path she has charted for faculty at the institution.
Major Topics Covered:
Education and personal background
Theories of leadership; leadership development approaches
Leadership in a healthcare institution and in the current healthcare environment
Leadership as a shift in identity
History of leadership development at MD Anderson
The Department of Faculty and Academic Development: approaches to leadership development
The human and spiritual dimension of leadership and leadership training
Examples of leadership challenges and providing leadership support
Personal view of leadership
About transcription and the transcript
This interview had been transcribed according to oral history best practices to preserve the conversational quality of spoken language (rather than editing it to written standards).
The interview subject has been given the opportunity to review the transcript and make changes: any substantial departures from the audio file are indicated with brackets [ ].
In addition, the archives may have redacted portions of the transcript and audio file in compliance with HIPAA and/or interview subject requests.
Interview Session One: 22 February 2016
An Interest in Moments of Turbulence Feeds an Approach to Leadership
Chapter 01 / Character and Personal Philosophy
Establishing a New Department of Faculty Development
Chapter 02 / Building the Institution
The First Successful Leadership Retreat Demonstrates Need for Faculty Development
Chapter 03 / Building the Institution
Faculty Development in a Politicized Context
Chapter 04 / Building the Institution
Reflecting on Leadership Qualities
Chapter 05 / The Administrator
A Wide Range of Interests Leads to Library School
Chapter 06 / Educational Path
International Work and an Interest in Power Dynamics
Chapter 07 / Professional Path
An Evolving Focus on Leadership Development
Chapter 08 / Professional Path
Interview Session Two: 1 March 2016
Faculty Development: Offering Support in a Stressful Environment
Chapter 09 / MD Anderson Culture
Changes in Academic Medicine over the Past Decades
Chapter 10 / Institutional Change
The First Several Years of the Faculty Development Initiative
Chapter 11 / Building the Institution
Creating the Faculty Health and Well-being Program
Chapter 12 / Building the Institution
Preparing for Coming Challenges to Faculty Development
Chapter 13 / MDACC in the Future
Interview Session Three: 4 April 2016
An MD Anderson Way of Leadership Training
Chapter 14 / Overview
Faculty Development: Directions for Future Growth
Chapter 15 / An Institutional Unit
Growth as a Leader
Chapter 16 / The Administrator
Faculty Development: Caring for the Soul of MD Anderson’s Faculty
Chapter 17 / An Institutional Unit
Interview Session One: 22 February 2016 (listen/read)
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 01 (Character and Personal Philosophy)
An Interest in Moments of Turbulence Feeds an Approach to Leadership (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny begins by explaining that she is in the midst of writing a new job description for herself so she can begin to focus more exclusively on her major interest, leadership development. She mentions author Linda Hill’s description of the transition into leadership positions as the equivalent of a big life transition. She goes on to reflect on her own qualities as a leader and an individual who has had to make many transitions, leading her to be “interested in moments of turbulence.”
Chapter 02 (Building the Institution)
Establishing a New Department of Faculty Development (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny sketches how she came to MD Anderson in 1999 to establish a new Department of Faculty Development at a time when there was little research and literature on this new area. She mentions MD Anderson’s reputation in the eighties as the “terminal hospital,” where patients came to die, a feeling that persisted into the nineties. She sketches the history of unsuccessful leadership development offerings at the institution.
Chapter 03 (Building the Institution)
The First Successful Leadership Retreat Demonstrates Need for Faculty Development (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny explains that, in 2001, a team was put together to make a “last try” to set up a successful initiative. She discusses how the team went about creating a new faculty leadership program that would prove such an initiative could be effective and relevant to MD Anderson faculty. She sketches the process of finding the Executive Development Group. She explains that the team handpicked the sixteen people who would participate in the first retreat, held in The Woodlands. She notes that the response was immediate and unanimously positive and that the curriculum is still largely the same. She sketches other programs that came from that: the Administrative Leadership Program and the Heart of Leadership Program. Ms. Yadiny also begins to sketch how leadership initiatives at MD Anderson evolve within a politicized environment.
Chapter 04 (Building the Institution)
Faculty Development in a Politicized Context (listen/read)
In this segment, Ms. Yadiny talks about the political environment in which Faculty Development was established and has evolved. She shares anecdotes to illustrate.
Chapter 05 (The Administrator)
Reflecting on Leadership Qualities (listen/read)
In this segment, Ms. Yadiny reflects on her own leadership qualities and discusses leadership in general. She tells another story of Marshall Hicks, head of the Division of Diagnostic Imaging, as an example of someone who has used the coaching services of Faculty Development to help him through leadership transitions and life transitions. She notes that the Executive Coaching service was established in 2008 to support new chairs and that Ethan Dmitrovsky is expanding coaching services. She notes that she earned her coaching certification. She lists her leadership traits (noting that she is a good idea person, “but this doesn’t mean I’m a good manager”) then talks about models of leadership she has discovered in her reading of literature. Ms. Yadiny then explains that, even though self-reflection is a key element of leadership training, many people “are terrified of it.”
She tells an anecdote that demonstrates how seemingly small issues can have a big impact on initiatives. Ms. Yadiny then notes that MD Anderson has had a “case study of leadership” over the past years, since Ronald DePinho came on a president. She notes that she would love to have a conversation with him about what he has learned about leadership and shares an anecdote that suggests he has been thinking about the subject.
Chapter 06 (Educational Path)
A Wide Range of Interests Leads to Library School (listen/read)
In this segment, Ms. Yadiny talks about her family background and her educational path to Library School at McGill University. She talks about her love of reading, her skills with drawing and sports, and her love of life outdoors. She talks about the interests that led her to study literature at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada (BA in 1970) and her decision to go to McGill University in Montreal for her MLS (conferred 1973).
Chapter 07 (Professional Path)
International Work and an Interest in Power Dynamics (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny discusses her early jobs with the Royal Society in London, then with the World Health Organization in Geneva, then in Tunisia. She tells anecdotes of the interesting characters she met in London; one of the stories allows her to demonstrate how she became interested in the master/slave relationship and how power factors into communication and power. She notes that she has encountered leaders who can be submissive or sadistic in their relationships with others. She describes the work she did in Geneva with the WHO, the lessons learned from her international experiences, and her reasons for leaving international work.
Chapter 08 (Professional Path)
An Evolving Focus on Leadership Development (listen/read)
In this segment, Ms. Yadiny discusses the series of positions she held that solidified her focus on leadership development. She first talks about her work at the Houston Academy of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center Library (’79 – ’90) where she did staff development programming and came to love working with leadership issues. She describes this as a “turning point in her life.” She describes the positive work situation and the experience in leadership development she gained.
[The recorder is paused.]
Next, Ms. Yadiny talks about her work at the University of Michigan in communications (’90 – ’99). She was able to complete a year-long “Planned Change Internship” that enhanced her skills. She talks about meeting Larry Lippitt, whose at the time work provided a basis for the understanding of organization development and how individuals behave within groups.
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 09 (MD Anderson Culture)
Faculty Development: Offering Support in a Stressful Environment (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny discusses the stressful work culture at MD Anderson and the challenges that leaders face. She tells a story about a department chair who shed tears during a coaching session and a meeting with his department. She notes that the culture makes faculty members feel unsupported, and they come to Faculty Development for support.
She also discusses cross-cultural issues that contribute to the stress, touching on issues that international faculty face and also on issues that arise because of U.S. regional, north/south, differences. She notes that the staff wields informal power, and gives examples of faculty women who have problems with staff members, who call them rude and demanding and often raise enough issues that the female faculty member “ends up in front of a Chair or HR.” Ms. Yadiny notes that Faculty Development and the institution in general has not done enough to orient faculty to the southern dimensions of MD Anderson culture.
She comments on the fact that 70% of employees are female, but MD Anderson “is a male institution.” She comments on her own experience of gender issues and the slow progress made on addressing them since she began her professional life.
Chapter 10 (Institutional Change)
Changes in Academic Medicine over the Past Decades (listen/read)
After reflecting briefly on the discussion in Interview Session one, Ms. Yadiny sketches how academic medicine has changed in the past decades. She notes the increase of expenses, patient volume, and structural changes to the healthcare system as well as the increasing competition for research money. She gives examples of how these contextual issues play out in the lives of faculty and leader.
Ms. Yadiny comments on the challenges of mentoring faculty in this environment. She states that Dr. Ronald DePinho has positively “raised the level of the discussion” about research at MD Anderson, noting that this is threatening to those who aren’t of the highest caliber.
Ms. Yadiny comments on the challenge of balancing a commitment to compassionate care with a forceful pursuit of hard-driving science. She notes that MD Anderson is a unique institution because it is an academic-corporate hybrid.
Chapter 11 (Building the Institution)
The First Several Years of the Faculty Development Initiative (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny fills in details about the evolution of the Department of Faculty Development. She explains why Margaret Kripke, the VP of Academic Affairs in 1999, supported a leadership development initiative. Ms. Yadiny then talks about her activities as Director of Faculty Development between 1999 and 2001, when the first formal course of the Faculty Leadership Academy was put together by a collaborative committee.
Ms. Yadiny explains that in 2001, academic medicine trailed the corporate world by about 15 years in understanding leadership. She explains why leadership is so important and notes that MD Anderson had no succession planning and no real culture of leadership.
She explains the success of the Leadership Academy and discusses the coaching sessions that are provided to participants and new leaders.
Chapter 12 (Building the Institution)
Creating the Faculty Health and Well-being Program (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny recounts the story of how the Faculty Health and Well-being Program was established. She tells the story of the suicide of plastic surgeon, Steve Kroll, in 2001. She notes that when the institution did nothing to address this event, a group of individuals approached then-president John Mendelsohn about doing something for the faculty. This group included: Walter Bayle, MD; Warren Holleman, PhD; Ellen Gritz, PhD; Janis Apted, MLS. This group formed a committee and they set in place a response plan for addressing trauma.
Ms. Yadiny next recounts how this initiative evolved into a program. She mentions groundbreaking work the Ellen Gritz and Warren Holleman did on burnout.
[The recorder is paused]
Ms. Yadiny then talks about several initiatives in Faculty Development. First she talks about Dr. Walter Bayle’s use of Interpersonal Communication and Relationship Enhancement to teach communication and leadership. She then talks about Faculty Development’s sponsorship of the Houston production of the play, “Wit.” Focus groups with clinical faculty related to this production were audio taped and used to produce of the video, “On Being an Oncologist.”
Chapter 13 (MDACC in the Future)
Preparing for Coming Challenges to Faculty Development (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny briefly comments on the goals she envisioned for Faculty Development when she became Executive Director in 2002. She then sketches the large-scale changes that MD Anderson will face as national demographics and the healthcare system continue to shift. She reflects on working with new staff members. She explains that she went back to school to earn her certification as a coach so she could be a better support to faculty.
Next, Ms. Yadiny lists the faculty’s fears and frustrations and notes that most people who need help are not asking for it.
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 14 (Overview)
An MD Anderson Way of Leadership Training (listen/read)
In this segment, Ms. Yadiny characterizes the “MD Anderson way of leadership training.” She explains that in 2002 her office settled on a skill-based approach that differed from the theoretical focus of earlier programs. She notes that Dr. Margaret Kripke advocated adoption of this approach and that the program for women faculty, Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine [ELAM], served as a model and was enthusiastically welcomed by all faculty.
She next gives examples of challenging situations that MD Anderson leaders can find themselves in (e.g. emotional blackmail and manipulation). She notes that a psychologist at Rice University introduced her to the idea that transition into leadership is a turbulent process akin to an identity crisis.
She talks about the learning curve for developing as a leader and emphasizes that MD Anderson is a very complex culture: some leadership consultants have characterized it as the most challenging and toxic they have encountered.
Chapter 15 (An Institutional Unit)
Faculty Development: Directions for Future Growth (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny explains that programs in Faculty Development will increasingly be organized around the idea that transition into leadership catalyzes an identity crisis. She explains a plan to conduct assessments for leadership potential (that could not come to fruition). She discusses motivations that individuals may have for aspiring to leadership roles and notes that most leaders say they get the most satisfaction from training the next generation of leaders or professional in their field. She notes that MD Anderson chair people have demanding roles with more responsibility than their colleagues at other institutions.
She explains the growing number of populations that Faculty Development serves at the institution, noting that the faculty is not required to take mandatory classes in leadership (unlike staff people). She discusses preliminary efforts to offer leadership programming for fellows and graduate students. She discusses the advantages of having outside consultants conduct programs and offers a personal anecdote about offering tough feedback.
Chapter 16 (The Administrator)
Growth as a Leader (listen/read)
Ms. Yadiny evaluates her own growth as a leader since she “began as a freshman” in Faculty Development at MD Anderson in 1999. In this Chapter she also talks about the importance of emotional intelligence.
She begins by discussing what she learned about herself by handling challenging leadership situations. She talks about her (excellent) working relationship with Robert Tillman [Associate Director, Faculty Development] and describes how some problems arose because of her strong working relationship with Janet Simon. She notes a theory that in workplaces, individuals recreate their family of origin around them.
Ms. Yadiny then talks about the importance of the emotional brain to leadership development. She notes that she reads a sacred literature to learn more about this and that MD Anderson can “shrink” this dimension of self. She talks about conversations she has with a psychologist who is also a practicing shaman, José Luis Stevens, when she senses distance from her emotional brain. She tells an anecdote about discussing a work challenge with Provost Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD. She lists the serious consequences leaders face if they do not cultivate the emotional dimensions of themselves.
Chapter 17 (An Institutional Unit)
Faculty Development: Caring for the Soul of MD Anderson’s Faculty (listen/read)
In this segment, Ms. Yadiny characterizes the essential role of the Department of Faculty Development: to caretake the soul of MD Anderson’s faculty. She begins by talking about a retreat held recently to help a department deal with issues of retaliation. She discusses her own experience consulting with this department and recounts an anecdote she heard Bill Johnson (CEO of Heinz) tell about coach.
Next, Ms. Yadiny explains her goals in the years remaining before her retirement: she would like the institution to “understand the full scope of what Faculty Development does.” She says that the department is “like a shaman” that brings in the whole person and provides a place of hope for faculty.
In the final minutes of the interview, Ms. Yadiny discusses why her work has a spiritual dimension. She acknowledges that she has “played a pretty significant role” at MD Anderson, setting up programs and services to minister to faculty however they require.