Report date
January 2022
Learning Log

Dear Colleagues - good evening from the West Coast! My understanding of my own leadership is constantly changing, and it is quite fluid in nature. What do I mean by that, right? Well, in short, I am still learning and deciphering the types of effective methods needed depending on the environment. However, one major change I do notice is that I listen more than I dictate. Again, I have started to best understand my team and nurture a rapport, then to focus on the project and nothing more. This was evident in my journey as an innovator of a medical device for the treatment of a neglected condition, breast cancer-related lymphedema. I have noticed that I empowered my colleagues by giving them a platform to feel safe to share their thoughts and ideas on how we should proceed. It is interesting because historically, even in an interdisciplinary team, I would define leadership as the individual who delegated tasks and pushed the team in a certain direction. That is not always fruitful, and during my journey on becoming an innovator, I realized that was not the most effective way leadership should be implemented. In addition, while I used my platform as a Bush Fellow to engage key opinion leaders in medical technology companies, policy makers, academics, member of minoritized populations, etc., I was able to use my soft powers to build a coalition. This was quite apparent in my inquiries as well as how I prepare for meetings in general. This was surprising to me because my first initial thoughts are to assess the unique qualities and skillsets each team member had and could bring to the table. Then I would ask myself how we could engage and leverage those experiences to answer pressing questions and challenges. This is how I see leadership today.
Even at my job as a researcher, I decided to implement some of these skills to conduct my work. I have an excellent team of fellows, coordinators, medical students, and research assistances who primarily work on my protocols. I directly engage them and ask how we should proceed with certain goals and how we can draw out standard operating procedures for the protocols? For many of them, having a senior researcher engage them in this manner was new and different. On the contrary, listening to their thoughts and seeing how they think has enabled me to recognize that my views are narrow. Leadership is about the empowerment of those around me and not about exerting one’s influence over others. I envision that each one of my team members is a leader in the making and has something powerful to offer their respective communities. I do not look at problems, rather I focus on those solving the problems that we face today. The longevity and the overall wellness of our society depends on this premise. This would not have been possible without reflection and treating one’s body.
Self-care was something that I personally did not focus on. In fact, in the beginning of this fellowship, I was not thinking about. I paid attention more to the work and making sure I had results, as I was accustomed to, and not to myself. It was my coach who reminded me that the Bush Fellowship is not about work, but how one should focus on their health and wellness. I have focused on giving myself set times to ensure I relaxed my mind and body through prayer, meditations, exercise, eating well, and travelling These all are small gems that I did not appreciate previously. Now it is part of my planning of my week and activities. This is vital for my health and longevity. As an individual with familial history of various chronic diseases, I am evading from repeating history. This is a commitment to my life and leadership journey.