Dean Klotman Reflects on the Importance of Leadership in Difficult TimesThe Dean of The Duke School of Medicine Reflects on Leadership During The COVID Pandemic
During this year’s Career Series, we had the opportunity to hear from and engage with a wide variety of leaders at Duke, it was apt that the final speaker in this year’s series, Dr. Mary Klotman, the current dean of Duke University’s School of Medicine, focused a portion of her presentation on the role of leadership and what constitutes good leadership.
Dean Klotman emphasized to us how at the beginning of her career she did not set out to become a leader however, there were instances when she would “sit around a table and hear things, and think I could do it better.”
Due to this belief, she found herself seeking out roles of leadership. This sentiment hit close to home for me, and I am sure for other Huang Fellows as well. As we continue our education and aspire to be leaders in various fields, it is important that we interact with and more importantly learn from current leaders. This interaction not only helps us to understand the different components of leadership but also to be self-aware of our personal strengths and weaknesses regarding our own leadership styles.
As a leader, Dean Klotman recently has been confronting the crisis of Covid-19. Dean Klotman believes there are important characteristics of leading through a crisis; some of these attributes include the ability to make quick decisions, be reliable, have the capability to communicate at multiple levels, and be a source of credible information.
As Covid-19 surges through different communities, it has become extremely apparent to me how a leader can exacerbate a crisis. Even though Dean Klotman’s characteristics of crisis leadership sounds relatively simple, this pandemic has unveiled how certain individuals lack some or many of these qualities. At the same time, sometimes we expect almost perfection from the leaders in our community. This summer I have definitely been guilty of extremely high expectations from the leaders of Duke University regarding plans to return to campus in the fall. The devastation of Covid-19 will eventually end and once it does people will remember those who led with integrity and honesty and those who did not.
In her presentation, Dean Klotman revealed that as a leader she is currently addressing two crises: Covid-19 and systemic racism. Dean Klotman described how the Duke University School of Medicine is in a strategic planning process for efforts related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism because she believes “If we can’t improve our community, we will have a very little chance of having an impact outside of Duke.”
Dean Klotman’s words remind us of the important work that needs to be done in many institutions in order for them to be more equitable and inclusive. I was surprised and grateful that Dean Klotman used part of her presentation to address the presence of systemic racism and its effects. To me it proved that Dean Klotman not only possesses important attributes of a good leader but also, she serves as an example of a leader to emulate.
Kristin Ankoma-Sey, Huang Fellow ’23
Kristin is a first-year student from Houston, Texas planning to major in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Chemistry.