Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 10, 2017

Waiter or surgeon: Leadership Chattanooga learns qualities for success the same

Leadership Chattanooga’s first meeting of 2017 began at Erlanger Hospital. We were introduced to our first speaker, Lisa Smith, M.D., a pediatric surgeon with University Surgical Associates.

A unique theme of Smith’s presentation involved highlighting the similarities between pediatric trauma surgery and waiting tables at a restaurant, noting both jobs require extreme focus and the ability to constantly reassess the needs of your patient (or diner).

The qualities that make a good surgeon, Smith says, are the same that make a good waiter: the ability to thrive under pressure, being a good team player and knowing the value of saying “please” and “thank you.”

After Smith’s presentation, we were whisked away to the Erlanger Regional Operations Center, known as EROC. Hidden behind a normal, non-descript door, EROC resembles the inside of a spaceship from a science fiction movie, complete with giant monitors and flashing lights everywhere.

EROC’s mission is to track everything happening across the region in real time, including the location, destination and status of Erlanger’s fleet of eight helicopters. It was exciting to see so much cutting-edge technology and so many highly trained staff members busy helping save lives all across the region.

Later, we heard from John Bilderback, Step ONE Program Manager. Step ONE is an organization charged with creating a culture of good health across Hamilton County. Harkening back to Leadership Chattanooga’s September meeting dealing with poverty, Bilderback explained that food supply, adequate housing, access to transportation and many other social factors have a direct impact on a person’s health.

We see this in the statistics that show poverty leads to a significantly greater risk of obesity in the Chattanooga area, particularly among minorities. Programs like Step ONE help reduce childhood obesity by making sure communities have access to healthy food and safe parks in which to walk, play and exercise. Bilderback and his team have already seen great success throughout Hamilton County.

Following our time at Erlanger, Leadership Chattanooga shifted gears and traveled to the offices of First Things First to hear from Mark Mendenhall, the J. Burton Frierson Chair of Excellence in Business Leadership at UTC. Mendenhall has traveled all over the world teaching and studying leadership, living for many years in New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland and Germany.

Boiling his extensive experience down to three short hours, Mendenhall said, “There are so many leadership skills it is impossible for someone to learn them all.” He emphasized the development of vision, self-awareness and the pursuit of collective power over mere personal power.

“Leading means trying to change something,” Mendenhall says. This resonated with the Leadership Chattanooga class because, in one way or another, we all want to be a part of positive change in the Chattanooga area.

Upon reconvening in February, Leadership Chattanooga will look at the arts and quality of life in the Chattanooga area.