Dr. Vikram Dravid (Vik), is an accomplished doctor and successful novelist. I first met Dr. Dravid in 2005 at a gathering of our cricket team. I found him to be very unassuming and with a very calm and cheerful demeanor. I would not have guessed then that he led a team of doctors! Over time we built a good bond and when I approached Dr. Dravid for this interview, he granted it unhesitatingly.
Dr. Dravid did his medical training in India. He trained in diagnostic radiology at Jefferson University Hospital, did fellowships in Nuclear Medicine at the University of PA and Interventional Radiology at Jefferson. He works as an Interventional radiologist with Mainline Health, Philadelphia and has directed their radiology residency program for 15 years. Dr. Dravid is an associate professor of Radiology with Jefferson and has been awarded the prestigious fellowship by the American College of Radiology.
Dr. Dravid serves on the board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Radiology Society and was named one of the area’s Top Docs by Mainline Today.
His first novel ‘Not Just Cricket’ was published in 2010.
Dr. Dravid exemplifies a very important trait of everyday leaders, i.e. to set himself a goal and then achieve it (the book is a great example). He also provides some good insights into leadership qualities in this interview, such as staying calm under pressure, the value of patience and self-belief.
Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Kay: What, in your experience, are the three most important qualities of a leader?
Kay: (having looked up in the dictionary) Equanimity means staying calm under pressure. Why would you say that this is an important quality?
Vik: It is very important for a leader to stay calm under pressure. In pressure situations when everybody around you is losing their temper, clarity of thought becomes difficult. I have always admired people who have the rare ability to stay composed under pressure.
Kay: Have you ever felt pulled back at taking on a task or assignment that includes managing and leading people? What are the 3 most important factors that prevented you from taking the initiative?
a. Lack of belief in the goals or methods of the project
b. Personnel involved.
c. Time investment as compared to expected benefit.
Kay: Is leadership overrated? Aren’t good managers enough? After all, you have a certain task that needs to be accomplished
Vik: I disagree. Managers follow, leaders innovate, improve and inspire.
Kay: What would be your advice to a budding leader? Which areas to concentrate?
b. Sell it like you would like to be sold to.
c. Above all…integrity and consistency
Kay: Is there any technique or something that you’ve deliberately practiced to hone your leadership skill?
Vik: Before assigning a task, I will think about whether I would have liked it to be assigned to me and what would make me do my best to succeed were it my task.
Kay: How would you categorize your leadership style?
Vik: Blend of authoritarian, collaborative and mentor.
Kay: What are the things that you try as a leader to avoid?
Kay: If you had the time and resources to develop just one more skill to add to your repertoire, what would it be?
Kay: It is interesting that you say “patience”…
Vik: Yes, to me patience is a great virtue. It helps one stay calm under pressure – display equanimity – which is a trait that I very much adore.
Kay: What is the biggest challenge you ever had to face as a leader and how did you overcome it?
Vik: People showed a certain lack of belief in my vision. I forged ahead with the team and let the results do the talking. Of course, the results could not be doubted and all the naysayers kept quiet.
(Note: For everyday leaders, this may not be possible – to simply go ahead and lead the team on the assignment. This requires resources, commitment and buy-in from interested parties. Vik’s case should be treated as an exception. In such exceptional cases, forging ahead requires extreme confidence in one’s ability and a steadfast team that stays with you. However, the results (when they vindicate the leader’s stance) would establish the leader’s credentials in no uncertain manner. Again, a very risky stance, but ensure that you weigh the costs and the benefits in an unbiased manner).
Kay: Tell us about the book. How did the idea take shape in your mind and what motivated you to write one?
Vik: I have been writing for a while and have been thinking up these stories. Comes a time when you have to let it out and put it down on paper. It was a necessary creative outlet.
Kay: What kind of timelines, schedule, planning, vision, etc. went into the journey of the book from mere thoughts in your mind to the actual unveiling of the copy?
Vik: I had this story in my head for a while. Putting it down on paper took about a year. However, editing, fine tuning, revising etc. took approximately three years. This latter process is not terribly enjoyable but is a must to turn out a quality product.
Kay: Any tips to help young leaders convert their ideas into reality?
a. Planning – have an idea regarding implementation.
b. Confidence – believe in your idea.
c. Perseverance - work through the ups and downs.
d. Patience – your idea will see the light of day.
e. And finally, be critical – be continuingly critical of your idea and its metamorphosis. Introspection and insight refines the product.
Kay: These are excellent tips, Vik. As a final question, what would you advise budding leaders to guard against?
Kay: Thank you very much for your time and valuable insights. We wish you all the best for your next book.
Image, courtesy: www.vikdravid.com