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Recap: Leadership Development Program

By Austyn C. Grissom, DMD, MSD, Resident and New Practitioner Committee

I am writing this after an incredible weekend in San Diego at the AAE Leadership Development Program (LDP). It was truly an honor to participate in this program as a mentee, and it is my hope that this segment will help other young endodontists learn more about this extremely rewarding opportunity to further their involvement with the AAE.

Every other year, the LDP consists of 10 mentees and five mentors. To be eligible as a mentee, one must be in practice for less than 10 years and have limited to no experience serving on an AAE committee. The applications for this program launch each summer and are typically due around the first of October. The Membership Engagement Committee then reviews the applications and decisions are announced by the end of the year.

The 2023 LDP invited two facilitators from the Academy for Advancing Leadership (AAL) to guide us through the weekend. The curriculum was developed from the book, 31 Days with the Virtues: Practicing the Habits of Exceptional Leaders by N. Karl Haden and Rob Jenkins, and was broken up eight sessions:

  • Actualize Your Leadership Potential
  • Power of Introspection and Refinement
  • Leading Yourself
  • Power of the Emotional Intelligence Connection
  • Leading Others with Impact
  • How Do Great Leaders Overcome Challenges?
  • Building an Effective Mentoring Relationship
  • Contributing to the Profession and Community

Within 31 Days with the Virtues, the authors make a point that obtaining knowledge about leadership is not enough to make a person into an exceptional leader. Rather, it is our daily actions that are going form our habits, and ultimately determine our course as a leader. There are nine virtues that are focused on throughout the text are: humility, honesty, courage, perseverance, hope, charity, balance, wisdom, and justice. Over the weekend there were various small group activities that provided us with an opportunity to put these virtues into practice.

One of the coolest takeaways from the LDP were my results from the TriMetrix EQ assessment. A week prior to the program, we were each tasked with taking this ~30-minute online assessment. From these results, the TriMetrix EQ system generated a 34-page report for each of us expanding on our natural and adaptive leadership styles, primary driving forces, and emotional characteristics. It was neat to work through these results with the other program participants and comforting to know that there are other people out there that are wired like me.

By far the most impactful part of the LDP for me was getting to know the five mentors. It was very inspiring to learn about their journey through organized dentistry while also balancing their personal lives as clinicians, teachers, and researchers. When the mentors were asked how they can fit organized dentistry into their busy schedules, there was one unanimous answer: the incredible AAE staff. As I am in my second year serving on the Resident and New Practitioner Committee, and I can certainly attest to how the AAE staff has made it easy for me to be an engaged committee member amid the busiest season of my life.

From left to right: RNPC Mentor: Brad Gettleman, RNPC Staff Liaison: Kelly McNamara, RNPC Committee Member: Austyn Grissom

2023 LDP Mentees

If you are reading this and feel like you are ready to give back to our specialty in some way, I would strongly encourage you to apply for the LDP. I am walking away encouraged by the relationships I’ve formed, inspired by the lessons I’ve learned, and at peace knowing that the future of the AAE is in good hands.