Monday, August 24, 2009


One of my jobs is directing the Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship program at Duke University. This scholarship is for kids from North or South Carolina who have shown leadership potential and an interest in service. I was looking over our vision documents in preparing to address the newest crop of BN Dukes, and read again what we try and teach these students about leadership. And it got me to thinking that this perspective would be useful about now in the whole health reform discussion.

The Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship Program's Understanding of Leadership
*Leadership is a community or group activity
*A healthy community needs many perspectives; withholding ones voice harms the community
*Everyone can grow as a leader
*We want to encourage leadership that improves the common good
*There will be disagreement about what equals the common good
*A key leadership role is inspiring critical and creative thinking about the tension related to determining the common good.

The last three points are the most important for the health reform discussion. It seems as though there are very few saying our health system doesn't need to be changed. But, we have large disagreement about what equals the common good. This is the reality of our time, and probably has always been the case. We need leaders who can lead creatively in the reality of disagreements regarding the common good in health care.

A final point is that I think that it is very important for me to look at myself and see where I need to improve in these areas. It is quite easy to point out how others need to change. If we all do only that, of course, nothing will.

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