Dr. Anthony S. Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, overseeing an extensive research portfolio to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. He spoke with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership.
What motivated you to follow a career path in public service?
It was a gradual, cumulative motivation that started in my teenage years. The whole idea of serving the public was something that was just naturally part of my family's discussions. My parents talked about the importance of serving others and the gratification that you get from doing so. It was a theme that was catalyzed for me at Regis High School and then at the College of the Holy Cross, both Jesuit institutions. That is where the idea of service for others really became an important part of what I wanted to do.
What is the best leadership advice you have received during your career?
Lead by example and set a vision that people can understand if you want them to follow and help you to fulfill your mission. Do not be afraid to hire the best people and, once you get them, do not micromanage them. Give them a vision and a mandate and get out of their way. Never stop listening and learning no matter how high you get in the food chain. Always be fair and consistent in the principles that guide your decisions, because there will be people who disagree. If you are consistent, they will at least respect you when you make your decisions.