Selected Podcast

When Physicians Assume Leadership Roles

Dr. Renee Lockey discusses what it's like when physicians assume leadership roles.
When Physicians Assume Leadership Roles
Featured Speaker:
Renee Lockey, MD
Renee Lockey, MD is the Site Director, OB Hospitalist Group.

Dr. Renee Lockey is a board-certified OB/GYN who is licensed in Colorado. She received a B.S. in Chemistry and Exercise Physiology from Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and her Medical Degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Lockey completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, Mass. She provides on-site leadership as the Site Director for Memorial Hospital Central and Memorial Hospital North.

Michael Smith, MD (Host): What’s it like when physicians assume leadership roles? This is the Obstetrics Podcast. I’m Dr. Mike. Let’s talk with Dr. Renee Lockey. Dr. Lockey is Site Director of the OB Hospitalist Group. This is an interesting topic to me and it’s something that I kind of wish somebody would have taught me a little bit before jumping into a leadership role. So, I actually think this is awesome and I’d like to start with having you kind of describe your role as a physician leader within your organization. Did you ever envision that you were going to be a leader like this?

Renee Lockey, MD (Guest): So, my current role and the role I’ve had since 2015, is as Site Director of University of Colorado Memorial Program in Colorado Springs. This program started in 2015 and I was on the original team. The program expanded about two years later to include our north hospital, so, I’m currently Sire Director at our two hospital program at Memorial North and Memorial Central. Did I imagine assuming this role? I came in from private practice as did the rest of my team. We all transitioned over to hospitalist work looking for a change in lifestyle and a slight shift to our career, and to be inpatient providers only. I think I was chosen by our now CMO to be Director of this program and it wasn’t any intention of mine, but I was willing to assume that role and looking forward to the responsibility and to the challenge and opportunity to develop in a new way. So, that’s the primary leadership role I have with OBHG. Secondary to that and more recent, I have taken on a large leadership role at our hospital as the Medical Director of a Women and Infant Service line. I have a dual role now both with the University of Colorado Health and with OBHG, a complimentary and dual role.

Host: So, thinking back to that time when your CMO with the OBHG group came up and said to you, Dr. Lockey, I need for you to be Site Director. What was your initial thoughts at that point? What was your gut telling you at that point?

Dr. Lockey: Well, I did ask why. There was a bit of a reluctance on my part to take on a leadership role because I was exhausted. I was tired from 12 years of private practice and I was looking for a change. I was relocating to a new state. And I wanted something a little more restful. So, the idea of taking on some extra responsibility at that point, I wouldn’t say I was enthusiastic about it. However, when asked why am I chosen of these four providers at this site to be the Director, I was told that it was based on leadership skills and gifts and to me, that was a compliment and honor and maybe some recognition at that point that yes, maybe I should not resist the opportunities that come my way with regard to leadership and instead embrace them and step into them and recognize there’s something that I bring to this position that can be utilized in a way that I should acknowledge and step into and not resist. So, that’s the honest answer at that time.

And I think I recognized the qualities that I have as a leader and at various stages, I think most of us who have developed as leaders, sometimes we’re enthusiastic to lead and other times we are reluctant to lead. And a lot of that depends on our energy level and things that are happening in the rest of our lives and so, I’m glad I said yes to the opportunity and it has developed, and it has expanded and I’m grateful for all of those things because it has been a nice stretch.

Host: A lot of physicians, when they hear about this, or maybe they’re an opportunity to become a Director or a Manager of a site or a clinic or what have you, you were like this too, Dr. Lockey. We’ve been so focused on clinical practice, so focused on medicine and keeping up everyday with medicine that many physicians when presented with that opportunity don’t necessarily feel like they’re equipped to really lead the way maybe a Director needs to lead. So, what does your organization do to help develop that in doctors, to help equip doctors to become leaders?

Dr. Lockey: Well we have all Site Directors participate at the National level in a once per year Site Director National Conference and leaders come in from the American Association of Physician Leadership to lead us in a usually two day, a weekend of development and so, there’s a different them each year. So, now I’ve had four years to participate at that where we are stimulated in some way to grow and develop as leaders. So, I think that was the first taste I had of what OBHG had to offer and after participating in that, for a couple of years, I naturally thought how might I take this further just on my own and sought out the resources that AAPL offers in terms of national conferences for physician leaders and their formal programs to develop. And so, I’ve participated online in some of those and attended one of the national conferences and I’m on a track there to continue to further develop there. So, it made me want more.

I think stepping into that realm realizing that there’s a lot of ways that I can grow and new ways that I can show up and then again, assuming a Medical Director position at the hospital, I knew; you quickly become aware of what you need to know and what you don’t know and what you want to know and want to learn. And so, some of that has been self-development. Additional programs that OBHG has, they have a leadership academy that is an optional track for any of our key members whether Site Directors or whether they have a team position to participate in a six month cohort of colleagues usually around 20 to 30 or so to attend some in-person and then once a month conversations in developing as a leader.  

So, those are topical conversations once a month. You have some work to do. You engage in dialog with your colleagues and that’s something that is offered to anyone. You apply for the program. And so, I’m currently two months into that track as well. So, those are the things that are offered formally for our team.

Host: So, you’ve been Site Director now for a while, been in now two leadership roles from what you just said. What are some of the qualities that you obviously have, that you now appreciate that help you to be a good leader?

Dr. Lockey: I think the most important piece is the relational piece and I consider myself to be a strong relational leader and that is, knowing my team well and the people we serve well and building those relationships. So, some of the foundations of that I think, are the importance of authenticity and humility, integrity. Just being a person that your team and your director reports, your team and those that you serve in leadership find you approachable, relatable, open, and available. Some of those pieces are the most important and building relationships I think, the key at the center of effective leadership, is simply being someone that others want to connect with and feel comfortable coming to with problems, with suggestions, with ideas.

Host: So, I understand that you held a retreat for your physician team and now that you gave that answer, I kind of see why you did that. Tell us a little bit about retreats like that and connecting like that and how it impacts your leadership skills and also your team.

Dr. Lockey: I did decide that our team, for a number of different reasons, we were probably a couple of years in as a team working together and we had gone through some pretty hard changes with the expansion from one hospital to two hospitals and major shifts in town of practices, relocating, the addition of a trauma service and the opening of a children’s hospital. There was just a ton of change that we were weathering together, and it was heavy. And I knew that we not only wanted to be together to support one another but we needed that, and we were not going to weather this change if we weren’t a strong team.

So, I saw that as an opportunity to start team retreats and we’re having them every six months and it’s basically just a 48-hour period of time for our small team to get away. We get coverage of the hospital by our backup providers so that we can get away and get to know one another better outside of work, to enjoy one another, some rest and some recreation. We’ve been skiing together. We’ve played some games together. And then also just to have a concentrated amount of time to focus on what’s going well and what’s not going well. Where do we need to grow and develop? How could we become a stronger team?

And I think that’s, I think that’s hugely important. We all enjoy it and look forward to the next one. So, as soon as one ends, we start thinking about what could we do next in the next season. I think it’s been very valuable.

Host: That sounds fantastic. And it fits in with kind of your core idea about what makes a good leader. I’m sure that’s helping you with your connections and communications, so, that’s fantastic. Kind of in summary now, Dr. Lockey, what would you like other physicians out there who may be contemplating a leadership role or wondering if they have the leadership qualities; what would you like them to know about taking on a leadership role in their group?

Dr. Lockey: One is recognized when others trust you that you are trustworthy and therefore have something to offer. I think most of the time, the best leaders are ones who are encouraged to lead not ones that necessarily seek out opportunities to lead. I think they learn that they are good leaders because others tell them that they are and then they trust that. And I think when you are being encouraged, it’s because people find you to have those qualities. I think then it’s one of those, are you going to see this as an opportunity, to overcome your weaknesses, what you see as your weaknesses and to walk in the strengths that others naturally see in you to develop yourself further and to grow, to encourage others to be the best that they can be on the team. I think everyone is a potential leader and I think you can lead from wherever you are in any position. I certainly don’t see my ability to lead specifically related to my role as a Site Director or to my role as a Medical Director. I think just simply being a physician on the team or a member on the team is opportunity enough to show up the way you want to show up and to lead in your area.

Seeking out, like recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, asking others to help you discover them. I’m participating right now in a Leadership 360 program alone with our Nursing Clinical Director so that we can learn to develop individually and together as a team for the best – to serve our team best as Co Directors. And so, I think seeking out that information and then humbly owning it and getting the skills you need, whether it’s books or podcasts or spending time with somebody else that you see as an ideal leader, the desire to grow, the willingness to grow and the bravery to seek out opinions of others into how you can do what you are doing better.

Host: Fantastic. That’s Dr. Renee Lockey. She’s the Site Director of the OB Hospitalist Group. If you are interested in joining Dr. Lockey, as an OBGYN physician at OB Hospitalist Group, visit That’s