In today’s world, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has become a household name. Fulfilling the motto “saving lives, protecting people,” these experts in health and medicine shoulder an enormous responsibility to understand, assess, and manage the health risks populations face. 

The CDC relies on leaders to carry out this important work that impacts us all. The Preventative Medicine Residency and Fellowship (PMR/F) is a key component in this effort. For the past two years, I’ve provided leadership training to bolster this program, helping aspiring leaders discover how they can make the biggest impact in the field of health and medicine. 

What Is the PMR/F?

Since its inception fifty years ago, the PMR/F program has played a pivotal role in developing leaders in health and medicine. This competitive program, designed to help health care workers “bridge medicine and public health . . . at the domestic and global levels” prepares participants to develop and apply critical skills in six areas:

  • Applied epidemiology
  • Program evaluation
  • Program administration
  • Policy development and analysis
  • Grant proposal evaluation and development
  • Population health improvement

Personalized Leadership Development for Health Leaders

Too often, budding leaders in the field of health and medicine are focused solely on science—that is, they often overlook how their unique contributions can also be used to lead others in the field. Discovering one’s natural abilities and personal style can deliver a significant boost to the overall impact one can have, not just in a career but in life. This was the impetus for the Personalized Leadership Development module, a short but impactful session I coordinated with the PMR/F to meet this need for health care professionals.

Empowering Leaders: Step 1

At the outset of the one-year PMR/F program, all aspiring leaders are introduced to the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), an assessment tool that objectively measures natural abilities. Via a 30-minute in-person meeting or webinar, participants learn about the technology and test administration requirements associated with the HAB. They learn the purpose of the test and have an opportunity to ask questions about the process. 

Empowering Leaders: Step 2 

Next, participants have approximately four weeks to take the HAB. The assessment takes around three hours to complete and can be done in sessions. As a certified HAB professional, I compile each participant’s results into a confidential, personalized leadership report (about forty pages). Throughout the timed work samples, participants are reminded that there is no passing or failing this test. High scores are not “good” and low scores are not “bad.” It is the combination of scores that reflects a person’s innate strengths and challenges. The goal is self-awareness leading to effective self-management as an individual and as a leader. This information is critical in setting leaders on a path of career success and satisfaction.

Empowering Leaders: Step 3

Post-HAB, program participants attend a three-hour group debrief and workshop. This is when I explain their results and where the significance of these results becomes apparent. It is in this step that participants become empowered by the program’s objectives:

  • Build self-awareness of their leadership strengths and blind spots, as measured by the HAB;
  • Gain an understanding of what drives them in their professional and personal lives;
  • Understand the difference between natural abilities and skills and why that is important to know;
  • Relate their natural abilities to specific behaviors and pinpoint potential skills to acquire;
  • Use an objective lens to understand and communicate with vastly different stakeholders; and
  • Find ways to incorporate this information in their leadership styles and long-term goals to leverage what they do best.

Beyond the Program

The HAB is an unbiased, objective assessment that offers self-awareness for a lifetime of decision making and choices. When health care leaders are empowered with this information, it benefits not only them but the public as well. But the learning about self need not end there—after completing the Personalized Leadership Development module, I offer additional or follow-up coaching and consulting to anyone interested. 

Real-world Results: Benefits from the HAB for Health Care Leaders

Participants in the PMR/F program are relatively early career professionals. As such, they initially tend to focus their professional talents on contributing to scientific understanding and solving public health problems, all while satisfying personal intellectual curiosity. The Personalized Leadership Development module is intended to provide information that residents and fellows can use to make the best possible use of themselves in collaborative decision making at high levels in health and medicine. The program empowers them with self-knowledge of their personal styles and natural abilities, equipping leaders to proactively seek best-fit career opportunities within the scientific field and offering tips for working with others who have very different ability sets. This not only benefits them (via perceived life and career satisfaction) but also is a boon to all people, as we rely on our leaders in the CDC to perform at a high level to keep us safe through effective public health policies.

Play to Your Strengths and Make a Difference

Are you a health care professional? Harness the power that stems from self-awareness. Learn more about the Highlands Ability Battery today and discover your natural abilities so you can be most effective in solving the public health problems of tomorrow.