Dr. James Hodge
1. What is your concept of leadership? What traits do you feel leaders in a professional association must possess?
A leader is someone with a vision and goals for the future who possesses the ability to effectively promote that vision among those whom they represent.
A good leader develops their vision by carefully assessing the origins, intent and makeup of the organization they represent and charting a course that accurately reflects the attitudes and desires of their constituents. This is accomplished by a combination of natural personality traits, communication and observational skills, and solid research and preparation. They motivate and involve the members of their organization, allowing them to “buy in” and become personally committed to the accomplishment of the goal.
A great leader takes into account that which is described above, then adds creative and innovative thinking to the process. This gives the organization not only a future and direction its members desire, but also one with elements previously unconsidered that allow for its achievement in the most effective and beneficial way possible. Leadership in a professional association is much different from that of a municipality or business. As primarily a volunteer organization, the members, including those in a leadership position, are not as compelled to remain if they feel they are not heard or appreciated. It is important for a leader in a professional organization to consistently communicate in a positive fashion with their fellow leaders, as well as the general membership. Recognition for contributions to the association is critical. Goals of such an organization must not be the product of a personal agenda, and must be the result of a thorough analysis of that association’s mission statement; they must be true to its original intent and purpose. Those values are commonly in danger of being lost in an association’s attempt to grow itself. When necessary, such a leader must be able to draw from resources, both internal and external to the organization, in the development of a plan to accomplish basic goals which have been agreed upon, and then closely monitor its progress. As always, delegation and involving as many members as possible is essential in creating a vital, energetic and enthusiastic association.
2. Where do you envision the Academy in the next five years?
I envision the Academy being well represented not only in all 50 states, but worldwide. This would involve a significant recruitment drive. It would be the primary contact by the media in matters of restorative and cosmetic dentistry, viewed as a credible source of information and promoting the highest and most noble ideals of care for the benefit of the public. Major market advertising would promote the AACD as a valuable resource, and its accredited members as being well prepared to fulfill patients’ needs. This would create a greater incentive for general members to seek accreditation, as well as for nonmembers to join the AACD. There would be a continued effort to be as environmentally aware as possible, and a majority of communications and documents would be transmitted by electronic means. New members would be consistently contacted, welcomed into the organization, and invited to participate in the variety of programs and events the AACD has to offer. Follow-up communications would be a part of that continual outreach. I believe that nurturing new members to become involved has been a core principle of the AACD, and one that needs to be emphasized. The annual AACD Scientific Session would be viewed throughout the entire dental community as the most relevant and valuable event of its kind.
3. Why do you seek a position on the AACD Nominating and Leadership Development Committee?
Since first joining the AACD I have been impressed with its function and goals. In comparison to other dental association conferences, which often are comprised of generic lectures and a rehash of what is dealt with in dental schools, the AACD Scientific Sessions have an energy and “nuts and bolts” approach to real treatment in the dental office, and offer innovative and exciting methods for solving some of dentistry’s more challenging cases. In addition, the Academy attempts to communicate with its members and involve them personally in a variety of its programs and events. Within the last four years, I have been active as a New Member Mentor, contacting new members throughout the U.S., as well as other countries on occasion. More recently, I have served as a member of the Awards and Recognitions Committee. Most of my efforts, however, have been directed toward completing the requirements for becoming an Accredited Member of the AACD. Now that I have been able to realize that goal, in 2011, and because of the burst of enthusiasm that accompanied that realization, I want to contribute to the Academy in any way I can. This past year, I was honored to have served as an alternate on the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee. I feel I was able to make a significant contribution toward the outstanding overall accomplishment of this committee, and I would like to continue that contribution. I have had extensive experience in a number of leadership roles, both in and outside of dentistry, which I continue to draw upon as an active participant on a committee such as this. Finally, I am at a point in my career, both professionally and financially, where I am able to give back to my profession. I can think of no finer dental organization in which to participate than the AACD.
4. What contribution(s) do you expect to make as a member of the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee?
Over the past 35 years, I have had extensive committee experience in dental and nondental organizations. I have served as both member and Chair of a variety of boards, and have developed organizational and communication skills that have been effective in working with others. I prefer to enter a discussion with no preconceived bias, and encourage healthy discussion of all sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion. My view is generally long-range, and I consider the welfare of an entire organization before any personal benefit. I believe I am a good judge of character and talent. With that judgement, experience, and big-picture approach, I would be looking for those qualities mentioned above in assessing and selecting future leadership in our Academy.
5. Why You Should Select Me for the NALDC
I am in the later years of my career, and my biggest regret is that I did not have information on the AACD earlier in my professional life. I joined the Academy in 2002 and, after much soul-searching, committed to seeking Accredited Member status in 2005. Having accomplished that goal year before last, and buoyed by the encouragement and support I consistently received from staff and fellow members along the way, I am passionate to increase my involvement in the Academy.
I bring a depth of experience in organizational leadership that I feel would be of significant benefit in contributing toward the charge of this committee. Because of the unfortunate late start I got with the AACD, I do not realistically envision myself as having the time to progress in a leadership role as far as I would have liked. I do, however, understand what it takes to be an effective leader. If I can help to contribute to the years to come, then I will have been able to back to the profession that has given so much to me.