One of the core written values of the SWOG Cancer Research Network is that we demand integrity, accountability, and ethical research conduct from our leaders and members.

Being accountable includes remaining dedicated to one’s job performance throughout one’s tenure. When my service as group chair began in 2013, my first act was to set term limits for myself, the group statistician, and our committee chairs. Although I regret that, now that I have a good chunk of my second and final term under my belt (just kidding!), combining staying fresh and having some experience remains a key component of good leadership. Under rules approved by our Board of Governors, committee chairs and the group statistician can serve no more than 3 five-year terms. Recently, the BOG also tweaked term limits for the group chair so he/she can serve no more than 2 six-year terms – a change put in place to better align with the six-year grant cycle mandated by the National Cancer Institute.

Another benefit of term limits is the creation of more opportunities for those who would like to lead. SWOG has already benefited from recent elections and appointments, which brought new talent and ideas into our work.

We also recently created a formal review process, as well as formal job descriptions, for our research committee chairs. The former is a 360 evaluation which includes input from a variety of sources, including members of the leadership team, committee members, statisticians, patient advocates, and appropriate SWOG staff. Additionally, we’ve updated job descriptions for research committee chairs, and created new job descriptions for our administrative and research support committee leaders, as well as our executive officers.

Our new strategic plan itself also discusses the review process in more detail, including the establishment of regular, end-of-year meetings with committee chairs to discuss performance, identify opportunities for improvement, and review future plans. We’ll also develop metrics for committee chairs, such as committee publications and junior investigator engagement, to measure performance over time. To achieve these ambitious plans, all of these processes will engage Deputy Chair Dr. Primo “Lucky” Lara.

Finally, we have plans to create a formal orientation and onboarding program for SWOG leaders, as well as better succession planning for committee chairs.

All of this effort is aimed at one major goal – ensuring excellence in our leadership. Good leaders know what they are actually expected to do, and how their performance will be measured. They expect to be held to high standards through rigorous and consistent evaluations. Excellent leadership is also fresh leadership, allowing for new personnel to come in and come up in our organization, bringing new insights, relationships, and strengths to the group.

SWOG will always welcome individual responsibility, aided by our set of group principles.