An Intimate Look at ELM

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By David J Waldron, ELM Program Facilitator 

April 2013—It is amazing to me that the AHRA Executive Leadership and Mentoring Program (ELM) is already two years old.  The time has flown by! The concept for ELM was devised at the AHRA RSNA booth back in November 2010 and was tweaked and fine tuned with the AHRA leadership team before being launched in the spring of 2011.  Why was ELM created?  To add a new executive level dimension to the educational options that AHRA offers to its members.  ELM also adds a unique aspect: personal mentoring for a full year for every participant!

Each year, ELM kicks off at the AHRA Annual Meeting with 20 hours of intense classroom sessions on five topics that are so important in this time of healthcare reform:

  • Strategic thinking and business planning
  • Using financial and operational reports as management tools
  • How to be organized as a lean, low cost operation
  • Leading staff to exceptional performance with management skills and emotional intelligence
  • Go-to-market strategy

While working through these five topics, participants form small breakout groups. Every participant takes a turn as chair of a breakout group and also as a presenter for their group.   The breakouts address real radiology leadership challenges and require participants to learn how to effectively use PowerPoint to present their conclusions and solutions in a compelling manner.

It has been very noticeable with both the 2011 and 2012 ELM classes that the participants achieved significant personal growth during the program in two key areas:

  1. The breakouts do not have enough time available to fully address the breakout topic – just as in real life, decisions have to be made with as much information as can be developed quickly in the time available.  The quality of the conclusions and the decision making process improved dramatically as the breakout chairs learned to allocate tasks to team members and thus achieve more in the time allotted.  Achieving productivity from all team members is a real life issue for all of us in 2013!
  2.  The quality of the PowerPoint presentations also improved dramatically.  It was obvious that the teams were developing a more engaging and persuasive approach to describing the problem, explaining their analysis, and justifying their decisions.  Being able to deliver compelling presentations to executive management is a critical skill for the next generation of radiology leaders.

The classroom sessions really achieve two goals: the participants dive deeply into some of the hottest management topics in radiology while achieving a big increase in confidence from their improved ability to analyze problems and present solutions.

But the ELM program goes even further than that with a mentoring aspect that begins as soon as the participants have returned home from the Annual Meeting.  This is where I have seen the biggest impact on participants.  I have seen the approach to analyzing problems and projects become more structured and thoughtful as the problem solving process becomes broader and more mature.

I have been asked many times to summarize ELM for radiology leaders considering their own participation.  I have usually described the five modules, the classroom and breakout sessions, and the mentoring calls.  But now that the program is matured, I describe it very differently.  ELM is all about personal growth for the participants.  Yes, we address the key management competencies directors need and we work on practical problems, but the real essence of ELM is the personal growth in confidence that comes from working with the other participants and with me, your facilitator, to fine tune your decision making, your presentation skills, and your leadership skills.

I am very happy to speak with any radiology director or seasoned manager considering participating in the program.  Please email me at and we will set a time when I can answer any questions and discuss the program. Once you’re ready, you can register for the ELM program on the AHRA website.

David Waldron is Chief Executive Officer at Traction Business Development and the facilitator of the ELM Program. He can be reached at

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