Taylor imageAfter more than a decade as UHN's Surgeon-in-Chief (from which he recently stepped down), Dr. Bryce Taylor decided to chronicle his experiences in his first book, Effective Medical Leadership. We sat down with Dr. Taylor to find out what inspired him to write the book, his advice for future leaders, and his plans for the future.

Why did you write this book?
For many reasons, but mainly for myself. I wanted to have a record of what I thought about leadership. I am forever grateful for the medical leadership opportunities and for my career in surgery. If anyone else in similar circumstances can learn a little from these words and bypass some of the errors I've committed, or straighten the circuitous routes I've often taken, I will be more than delighted.

When did you start writing it?
Technically, I started writing two summers ago. I didn't have a regimented writing schedule but always tried to find time. When relevant thoughts came to me, I jotted them down, and then tried to find time to flesh them out on paper. Thankfully, I had the support of my colleagues and family, both of whom tolerated me throughout the project. The problem was that I also had a day job at the time!

Who is your target audience?
Young professionals who have aspirations of health care leadership.

What do young professionals need to know about medicine that they are not being taught?
Our curriculum includes limited instruction about leadership and I see this as a gap. Often, medical or surgical practitioners with excellent clinical skills are promoted to administrative positions for which they have never been trained and for which they may be entirely unsuited. So, people considering a leadership position should ask themselves why they want the job, assess what the job entails, evaluate their own skills and go through the daily routine of the individual in the role before applying for it.

What's the toughest lesson you learned at UHN?
I've learned a lot of lessons! I reference a story in the book about supporting a tough decision made by the organization. Back in 2002, when UHN, like many other hospitals, was faced with a substantial deficit at the year's end, our Board met to discuss the projected budget. The Board came to a decision that I did not fully agree with, as it reduced our resources and our ability to care for our patients. Through this meeting I learned that after a collective decision has been made, the debate is over, and the decision must be supported universally, regardless of how I felt about it.

You share suggestions of how to become a successful leader. How do you define success?
I consider success to be the success of others. Bottom line, I hope that my staff enjoyed coming to work every day. If they are happy, I am too. I took pride in getting to know my staff. We have an incredible academic, surgical staff made up of incredible individuals.

In the book you have many thoughts about the success of leadership. Can you share one?
Your legacy, if you believe in one, will be in the people you brought on and in their success, not in your own personal accomplishments.

Watch a video interview with Dr. Taylor

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