Letters to the Editor
As Dr. Greenberg presents in his letter, the principles of adult learning are important considerations for developing a more effective leadership curriculum in academic medicine. The principles of adult learning Dr. Greenberg cites are also consistent with the findings from the research I have conducted on leaders who serve as “Multipliers” to a team (prompting people’s best work).
In particular, my colleagues and I found that “intellectual curiosity” was the top characteristic of Multiplier leaders. Those who exemplify intellectual curiosity learn from all sources—those across and below them in the hierarchy. We also found that the single greatest determinant for creating a culture of experimentation and learning was the leader’s willingness to talk openly about his or her own mistakes. Interestingly, we also found that “sense of humor” was a top characteristic of Multiplier leaders and the characteristic most negatively correlated with Diminisher leaders. The Multiplier leaders were not cracking jokes; rather, they did not take themselves too seriously and provided levity in artificially tense situations. Reducing anxiety allowed those on their team to minimize intellectual distraction and concentrate their mental energies on learning and performing.
As Dr. Greenberg suggests, we need our medical schools to be based on principles of adult learning. When leaders are true learners, it sets the aspiration (and the possibility) for the levels of learning and performance we expect from our physicians in training.
Liz Wiseman, MOB
President, Wiseman Group, Menlo Park, California; email@example.com.