Navigation Links
Former UCLA medical school dean outlines valuable leadership lessons in new book

Just months after Dr. Gerald S. Levey began interviewing for the position as head of one of the world's premier academic health centers, Mother Nature rewrote the job description. The 1994 Northridge earthquake damaged UCLA Medical Center beyond repair, and it soon became clear that a significant portion of Levey's mandate would be to oversee the building of a new hospital.

"In one fell swoop, the job I thought I was going to have completely changed," he said.

Levey stepped down nearly 16 years later, having amassed an extraordinary record of accomplishments, including unprecedented fundraising, elite rankings for UCLA's medical school and hospital, and the building of five new state-of-the-art facilities including Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, which was 14 years in the making and which Levey calls "the most challenging thing I have ever done."

Now, the former vice chancellor for medical sciences and dean emeritus of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA shares lessons drawn from his successful leadership experience in "Never Be Afraid To Do the Right Thing: A Leadership Guide in an Age of Change and Challenge," published this month by Second River Healthcare Press.

Levey, a trained internist and endocrinologist who prior to coming to UCLA had served as a senior vice president at Merck & Co., 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 said. "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."

The book takes its title from Levey's favorite piece of business advice. He frequently told members of his leadership team that it was less important whether a decision turned out to be correct than whether it was "the moral, ethical and honest thing to do."

In the book, Levey argues that one of the most important traits of a strong leader is the ability to adapt to circumstances. It is a lesson he hopes to impress upon UCLA medical students, who will likely see a variety of significant health care changes in the years to come; about 190 of them received free copies of the book from Levey at their white coat ceremony earlier this month.

"No one knows what the health care system will look like 10, 20, or 30 years from now," he said. "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."

The importance of being adaptable became abundantly clear to Levey following the 1994 earthquake, when raising money to build a new hospital moved to the top of the priority list. Levey had come to UCLA with fundraising experience. As chair of the department of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh during the height of a recession in 1979, he was introduced by an important member of the community to the CEO of U.S. Steel, among others, and was able to obtain substantial donations to start new programs.

Recalling those successes when he arrived at UCLA, he put forward what he called "Levey's Eight Principles of Fundraising," the first of which was the value of getting respected people in the community to make introductions to people of influence and affluence. At UCLA, one such person turned out to be an entertainment industry leader who introduced Levey to many individuals who became major donors. Knowing the importance of being responsive, Levey carried a pager with him no matter where he was, inviting supporters to contact him at any time.

His fundraising abilities became legendary. Levey estimates that he was personally involved in raising between $700 and $800 million, including a $200 million gift from David Geffen in 2002 that endowed the medical school. In an era of dwindling state support, the gift went a long way toward providing more scholarships, improving faculty recruitment and retention, and securing the medical school's position as a leader in biomedical research.

Beyond pointing to the characteristics needed for successful leadership, one of Levey's goals in writing the book was to help readers better recognize leadership potential.

"There is a long history of important jobs in medicine, industry and government where people placed in positions of leadership did not succeed because, quite frankly, they weren't designed to be leaders," he said.

The keys to effective leadership Levey outlines in the book include a strong work ethic and passion for the job, high moral and ethical principles, humility, and accepting responsibility. He also stresses the importance of a sense of humor and treating others with respect.

"Leadership ultimately is about caring for people in your organization," he said. "In my final days on the job, what really hit home was that people felt connected with me because they felt they were part of something, and that I cared."


Contact: Roxanne Moster
University of California - Los Angeles

Related medicine news :

1. Nurse-Attorney/Former Bristol-Myers Squibb Executive Selected To Lead New Jersey State Nurses Association
2. Health & Sports: Former NBA Star John Salley Endorses STEMTech Stem Cell Nutrition Products
3. Former Bank Negotiator Turns On Bank and is Approved by the Department of Real Estate
4. Introducing E S Foods: Company Announces Name Change, Formerly East Side Entrees
5. Statement From Reverend Al Sharpton, Former Congressman J.C. Watts, and Dr. Gary A. Puckrein on the Meeting Between the Congressional Black Caucus and the White House
6. Academy's Community Initiative Offers Qualifying Former Addicts Free Vocational Training
7. Democracy on Trial: SEIUs $25 Million Lawsuit Against Union Reformers Goes to Court Monday
8. Thomas J. Kent Jr. FDP Capital, LLC Chairman and Former NFL Player Jack Brewer Join Forces
9. Michael O. Leavitt, former HHS Secretary Joins HealthEquity Board
10. Former USAA President and Leading, Industry Expert Launch Contact-Center Management Company Featuring Innovative Business Model
11. Former Microsoft Employee Combines Passion For Technology With American Made Chris King Bicycle Parts
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... IBM software products, introduced a new company, RightSensor™ LLC, an Internet of Things ... capability. RightSensor™ provides a fully-managed approach for customers requiring sensor hardware for ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... Dr. Poneh Ghasri, dentist in ... September 18, 2015. The research, which was conducted at the Dental Institute at King's ... show connections between stress during pregnancy and future dental health in the child. For ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... ... A child without a healthy mouth is much more likely to have an ... has joined with Global Dental Relief (GDR) to help bring dental care ... SmileCareClub will donate one clinic visit to a child in Kenya. , “When SmileCareClub ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... solutions, announced today their Title Sponsorship of Synergy 2015. The annual WennSoft KEY2ACT ... at Green Valley Ranch and will unite customers, partners, WennSoft team members and ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... McHenry County, Illinois with more than 59,000 emergency department visits per year, today ... (EDIS) from T-System, to help improve clinical, operational and financial outcomes. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  Data Science Automation (DSA), ... opening of a new branch office in the ... DSA,s presence in Europe . The decision ... increasing demand for local support of customers in the medical ... Ph.D., DSA,s UK Branch Manager. "We have had tremendous success ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... -- SeraCare Life Sciences, a leading partner to global in ... medicine business unit has launched its second product in ... (NGS)-based tumor profiling assays.  The Seraseq TM Solid ... mutations in key oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes as ... is offered at five additional allele frequencies. ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  Graduate students across ... and medical research, will soon have the opportunity ... care – the drug discovery and development process. ... has collaborated with 10 leaders from academic institutions ... Medicines: The Process of Drug Development."  Lilly will ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: