By Ashley Yeager

Former politician Ron Paul speaks at the 2013 Feagin Leadership Forum. Credit: Ashley Yeager, Duke.

Former presidential candidate Ron Paul, an MD from Duke Medical School,  speaks at the 2013 Feagin Leadership Forum. Credit: Ashley Yeager, Duke.

Credibility is key for becoming a leader, both basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and former politician Ron Paul told a group of Duke medical school students on May 18.

The two spoke as part of the Duke Sports Medicine Feagin Leadership Forum, a weekend meeting focused on ethical leadership.

“Ethical leadership takes courage, integrity and character,” Krzyzewski said. “You can see ethics and talk about ethics. But to do it, you’ve got to feel it.”

He, along with Paul and the other speakers and panelists, told the audience anecdotes where they had to choose to be ethical despite the decision not being the easiest or the most favorable among their peers.

Joanne Kurtzberg, a specialist working with children’s blood disorders, explained her difficult decision to send a patient to Europe for treatment using umbilical cord blood. The procedure was life-saving but had not yet been approved by the FDA in the U.S.

The decision and Kurtzberg’s pioneering effort in umbilical cord banking and treatments¬†earned her what Krzyzewski called “street cred.” He said those looking to lead should be in constant search of credibility from their peers because it is one of the most important ways to show a person is willing to what is hard and difficult but the right thing to do.

While the audience was a mix of military, business and medical leaders, Krzyzewski tailored his speech mainly to the 2013 Feagin Medical Scholars, 16 medical school students who receive additional training in moral and ethical leadership, public speaking and other skills to make them well-rounded doctors.

Krzyzewski said the program is unique because it combines “two of the best jobs in the world,” being a doctor and being a leader. “Getting into medicine is huge,” he said, and becoming a leader “makes you part of something bigger.”

This program, he added, can take ethical leadership in medicine to a level no one has reached before, making it the gold standard, not only in the U.S., but also worldwide.

Success now lies in the scholars developing their “street cred.”