The ASCRS Leadership Pillars


Behind every great leader is a great mentor and behind every great leader is a mentee.  The mentor-mentee relationship is one that if approached with thoughtfulness will lead to the personal growth of both the mentor and mentee. To be an effective mentor, one must put the needs of the mentee before those of himself/herself. The mentor must be willing to lead the mentee in a direction which will help the mentee achieve their desired goals and be willing to establish mentor-mentee relationship boundaries. They must be comfortable offering constructive criticism and be willing to find a new mentor for the mentee if the mentee has needs that cannot be met by the mentor. Similarly, the mentee must approach a prospective mentor with a goal-oriented plan which the mentor can help implement.


Leaders are responsible for the results of their team, whether good or bad. When undesirable outcomes occur, it is vital for leaders to accept responsibility for the results. Taking accountability for these outcomes and consequences builds trust and respect and models an attitude of accountability that can be contagious among employees. If accountability is lacking from a leader, others will lose trust and become resentful.


Leadership requires establishing open lines of communication through accessibility, transparency and continuous dialogue.  Communication is a bidirectional process that necessitates listening and understanding while also sharing knowledge and vision. Connectivity is a natural extension of effective communication and results in the establishment of trustworthy bonds between organizations, colleagues, team members, and patients.  Successful communication creates connectivity that is the essential ingredient for any highly reliable team.


A strategic vision is the ability to visualize a path forward, for an individual, or organization.   Leaders with strategic vision are more likely to be successful, as having a career vision allows leaders to focus energy and resources towards meeting one’s goals. Creation, refinement and articulation of a strategic vision are vital elements of any leadership or organizational development program.


Leaders must have the vision to see when change is required, be able to cast a vision for their team and work to overcome barriers to the change so that the team members can be successful. The ability to see when change is needed and casting a vision for the change is one factor that sets leaders apart from managers. The new territory of growth and change is often new or less well known, but a true leader can envision what is needed and rise to the challenge.


Organizational culture is built on the underlying beliefs, values, norms and systems that create the environment within which we function.  In order to make change, leaders need to be able to change culture or align it with their vision.   Leaders who don’t consider culture are unable to make meaningful change.  It is important for leaders to understand the culture they are trying to build.


Integrity is one of the most important qualities of a great leader. Integrity implies that the leader always conducts himself/herself with honesty and abides by ethical principles. Integrity requires that the leader respects others and will always do the right thing even when that course of action could cause difficulty achieving one's personal or institutional goals. A leader who possesses integrity will inspire those around them to passionately achieve common goals.


Strong leaders help motivate and empower their organizations.  Leaders using their vision to draw individuals around common goals and to inspire them; but in order to make change, leaders must enable others to be involved.  Empowering colleagues, staff, and the rest of the team helps to make sure goals are aligned, helps to increase diversity of opinions, and helps build commitment to a leader and organization.  This also helps to develop other team leaders, strengthen mentorship, encourage communication and build trust.


The purpose of a professional society is to create a group of individuals committed to a set of goals and use the synergy of that group to best reach those goals.  The mission of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is to advance advancing the understanding, prevention and treatment of disorders of the colon, rectum and anus.  Our ability to achieve these goals is only as strong as our involvement in our mission and to our society.  Being an active part of this or other societies allows individuals to use their voice for both consent and dissent, to network with other members, and to collectively improve care for our patients.


The “operations” pillar was created to emphasize the importance of understanding the nuts and bolts of the business of medicine and healthcare.  Knowledge of how finances, human resources, regulatory compliance, clinical workflows, quality, patient safety, and management efficiency, can impact practice is critical to serving in positions of leadership.