AIB Welcomes Professor Erwin Loh as an Industry Guest Lecturer
It has long been the norm for high achievers to pursue either Law or Medicine after graduating from high school. Professor Erwin Loh did both. He holds a medical degree from the University of Melbourne and a Law Degree (Honours) from Monash University. He also holds two Masters (an MBA and a Master in Health Service Management), and he completed his PhD with the Australian Institute of Business.
Erwin was admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia as a Barrister and Solicitor, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators, Australasian College of Health Service Management, Australian Institute of Management, Chartered Management Institute, Australian Institute of Company Directors, and Australasian College of Legal Medicine.
Erwin is the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of Innovation, Patient Safety and Experience at Monash Health, Victoria’s largest health service. He has been an invited speaker of local and international conferences, published articles and book chapters on health law and medical management, and he supervises doctoral students.
With so many strings to his bow, we’re delighted that our esteemed alumnus Professor Erwin Loh has joined AIB as an Industry Guest Lecturer to share his leadership approach with our students.
Erwin believes that leadership can be taught, drawing a distinction between the ‘great man’ theory of the nineteenth century and modern transformation theories. There are, though, traits that help those aspiring to lead. “If you’re born a good communicator, if you are friendly, if you are someone who can form relationships easily – that automatically gives you a front foot in terms of being a good leader,” Erwin says.
As for the key attributes that make a great leader, Erwin breaks them down as follows:
“A leader needs to understand that their leadership role should not allow them to exert power over people. Their role should be to serve the followers so that they can in turn serve the wider community.”
Erwin finds great fulfilment in working in public health: “Decisions I make actually have an impact on the public – the 1.2 million people that we serve in Monash Health, which is half the state in the southeast. That gives me a lot of satisfaction.” His focus has been on setting a values-based culture for the doctors and other medical staff working in Monash Health. There’s a zero tolerance approach to bullying and disrespect, and an overall understanding that doctors are there to care for people with compassion and kindness. Erwin’s leadership helps his staff provide a competent and caring service to the public.
Leaders should bear in mind that they are only in their position at the behest of others, because others want to follow them. While Erwin connects leadership with the ability to motivate others, he’s clear that he doesn’t want his followers to do so unquestioningly. “What you want is to have followers who are engaged and who are critical thinkers,” he says, rather than amassing those who are always in agreeance. Doctors and other health practitioners are of course very intelligent thinkers, but as many of them hold positions outside of the hospital system as well as within it, they aren’t always engaged in the shared values of the organisation. The leadership challenge involved in engaging these thinkers towards a shared vision is one that Erwin prioritises in his work.
Leaders must be willing to reflect on the effectiveness of their actions and change paths if necessary. “The business environment is changing at such a rapid rate that a leader needs to be able to adapt to change. They must be able to transform themselves so that they can transform the people around them and the organisation.”
In fact, says Erwin, “It is the biggest role of a leader. A leader is not there to be a figurehead; the leader is there to lead change because organisations have to keep changing. Look at the world today as a river – if you stand still, the current is going to push you backwards.”
It may seem obvious, but Erwin emphasises that above all, leaders must be competent. “A well-rounded, effective leader has to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk. They have to perform and they must meet targets. Leaders have to have the theoretical knowledge to be able to understand their environment, and then be able to apply the theory into practice.”
We look forward to Erwin sharing his knowledge and experience with our students for a practical insight into leadership in a demanding service-based industry.
Get to know AIB’s Industry Partners and our team of exceptional Industry Guest Lecturers here.