As I interview leaders, I repeatedly hear about the importance of the people in the leaders’ organizations. There is obviously a strong consensus about the importance of “human capital.” The question then becomes how do you maximize this human capital to best achieve the organization’s goals? Some companies have training departments which is great; however, sometimes all instruction is relegated to that department. What innovative businesses such as Caterpillar, Infosys, and Capital One have figured out is that to truly build a learning culture you need to have “Leaders as Teachers.” This concept means that leaders throughout the organization are continually teaching, developing, and mentoring their teams. This model of leader as coach is clearly proving to be the most effective way to manage within an organization. To effectuate this model, leaders have to be willing to “step up” and become engaged in the process. While it takes time and effort, there is a significant return on this investment.
I recently visited with Dr. Larry Field, who serves as director of upper extremity service at Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center (MSMOC) in Jackson, Mississippi. He is also a clinical instructor at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and is Mississippi Sports Medicine’s program director for its well-known Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Fellowship. While you may not think of a surgeon as a “leader as teacher,” Field has a long track record of mentoring and teaching both within his practice and on a national scale. A native of Natchez, Dr. Field earned his undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech University and his medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine where he also did his residency. He has advanced training and fellowships at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and in Switzerland and Germany.
Dr. Field shared that his philosophy about leadership is to “just say yes!” What he means by that is that you have to seize opportunities to get engaged when they cross your path. He noted, “The only real regrets I have are the opportunities I passed on versus what I agreed to do.” As program director for MSMOC’s Fellowship Program, he works closely with the five fellows who elect to train with MSMOC’s 14 specialty trained physicians. He shared that he tries to instill in them a sense of service to the profession and encourages them to take advantage of opportunities for leadership development. In occupations like being a physician that are very time demanding it is easy to skip out volunteer positions that take time away from the daily tasks. However, as Dr. Field shared, “I have benefited tremendously from the opportunities to learn and share as I have been involved in organizations both locally and nationally.” Leaders like Dr. Field share a “pay it forward” mentality that drives them to take time to teach and encourage others. He shared that he was encouraged in his journey by Dr. Russell Warren (team physician for the New York Giants), his former medical partner Dr. Buddy Savoie (a nationally known surgeon now practicing in New Orleans), and Robert Lodes (the business administrator for MSMOC for the last 25 years).
Dr. Field practices what he preaches to the fellows. He has served in numerous organizations including the Mississippi Orthopaedic Society which he served as president and the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) which he was just elected to the board of directors. The AANA has over 3,500 physician members and is committed to educating physicians and creating better outcomes for patients. He takes time to be a regular speaker at conferences around the world. His passion is learning and sharing with other physicians to help improve patient care. As I visited with Dr. Field it really struck me that we all have the opportunity to be “leaders as teachers” who need to take time to model servant leadership both in our organizations and our respective industries.
Up Close With … Dr. Larry Field
Title: Orthopaedic surgeon, Mississippi Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center
Favorite Books: “Two of my favorite leadership books are Jack Welch’s Winning and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I also enjoyed 1984 by George Orwell and anything written by Mark Twain.”
First Job: “My first job responsibility was working in my Dad’s garden, and later I worked as a bag boy in a grocery store.”
Proudest Moment as a Leader: “I was very pleased that MSMOC’s fellowship program was listed as one of the top sports fellowships in the United States which reflects on our firm’s commitment to education.”
Martin Willoughby, a business lawyer in Jackson, is a regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. Willoughby can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.