Walter is teaching the “Leading Organizational Change” course in the Physician MBA. An engineer with an MBA focused in finance and accounting, Walter became fascinated by effective leadership while working at Eli Lilly and Company.
“The leaders were able to bring out the best in both individuals and teams,” she said.
Walter went on to earn a PhD in organizational behavior specifically related to leadership because she not only wanted to understand exceptional leadership, but she wanted to teach it, too. Her research focuses on leadership development — the thought process that goes into creating leaders and how leaders seek and use feedback to improve.
Walter recognizes that the soft skills of leadership don’t always come easily to people with logic-based professions.
“I have an engineering and finance background. Like physicians, we aren’t taught management skills; we’re taught technical skills: how to engineer a well, how to balance a budget or how to perform surgery. But when it comes to managing people and understanding their motivations, we aren’t trained on that,” she says. “Leading is understanding not only how you tick, but how other people operate — their strengths and weaknesses — and working within their capabilities.”
Recognizing when change is needed is only step one, says Walter. Change management involves preemptively considering all the steps needed to achieve transformation and any obstacles that may stand in your way. Many people have ideas for improving processes in healthcare, but not all of them are successful.
“Most people who haven’t been trained in change management don’t understand why their plans failed. It’s often due to unexpected roadblocks,” Walter explained. “One of the things this change management course does is train you to anticipate potential hurdles and create strategies for getting around them so they do not derail your plans.”