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From Medscape General Medicine™
Robert A. Beltran, MD, MBA, FACMQ, CHCQM

What determines leadership? United States business history makes a compelling case that best leaders acquire the ability to understand the context they live in --and seize the opportunities their times present.(1)

A central lesson for physician leaders is that context matters. Some of the greatest business victories of all time have resulted from managing according to the spirit of the time. Quality physician leaders will need to acquire the ability to read and adapt to the changing business conditions of medicine.

Leadership is primarily an acquired set of learned skills: the ability to communicate, a grasp of the desires of a community, willingness to work long hours, passion, and the ability to understand a set of issues and react appropriately. Experience creates good judgment. Of course, experience comes from poor judgment, hence leaders must be able to master adversity.

The "Zeitgeist theory of leadership" means leading according to the spirit of the time. This theory states that history and opportunities are the determinants of leaders rather than individual talents. Different places and times have unique requirements for their leaders. Leadership positions can be assumed only if the leaders' talents meet the requirements of a particular time period.

Change is the only constant in today's healthcare marketplace. Latino physician leaders are poised to take advantage of their ability to understand the context they live in and to seize the opportunities their times present. Recent reports from the Institute of Medicine(2-4) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (5-7) create the contextual factors for a new generation of Latino physicians.

Latino physicians applying the Zeitgeist leadership will become the best healthcare leaders for society.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. Robert Beltran, President of LatinoMed Policy Institute.

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References
Mayo A, Nohria N. Zeitgeist leadership. Harvard Business Rev. 2005:45-60.
Institute of Medicine. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences; 2006. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/report.asp?id=5432 Accessed January 19, 2006.
Institute of Medicine. To Err Is Human: Building A Safer Health System. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences; 2006. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/report.asp?id=5575 Accessed January 19, 2006.
Institute of Medicine. Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences; 2006. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/report.asp?id=4475 Accessed January 19, 2006.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2004 National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR). Available at: http://www.qualitytools.ahrq.gov/qualityreport/download/download_report.aspx Accessed January 19, 2006.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2004 National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR). Available at: http://www.qualitytools.ahrq.gov/disparitiesreport/download/download_report.aspx Accessed January 19, 2006.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Fact sheet: 30 safe practices for better health care. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/30safe.htm Accessed January 19, 2006.

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