Six leadership lessons highly worth learning from psychology of a physician

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Be your own physician?

We all know that medical practice in any field is a noble profession; but what is little known are unique lessons that we should learn from the mindset of a medical practitioner. We are talking about just a good physician, leave alone successful ones.

Let us look at what does psychology of a physician teach us:

  1. Managing conflict of interest
    Getting into medical profession entails lot of efforts, time and money worldwide. It is natural that motto of getting into this field for most is earning name, fame and wealth.
    It is also clear that every visit to or by a physician fetches a fee for him/her.
    Now, a physician is faced with conflict of interest – treat his/her patients or customers for self-interest or serve them selflessly. Good doctors would always manage this conflict by rising above self and greed, and serve customers keeping in mind their interests. They prescribe minimum medicines and pathological tests and discourage patients to make frequent visits. Many have grace to charge less fees from those, who can’t afford.
    Let us draw a parallel to above the stock options scheme in corporates for employees and top management. Such options have a singular motive of driving employees to perform well, so that company profitability improves, which in turn would reward employees with more options. But, when it comes to top management, conflict of interest creeps in – should company performance improve to increase value of his/her substantial stocks or should it improve to increase values for customers and employees, even if it means slight dent in company’s profitability? Many CEOs allegedly and subtly act in favor of the former – serving self-interest.
  2. Maximum availability
    A physician is available 24×7 to his/her patients, at least in India. Their work-life balance is heavily tilted towards work.
    I am not suggesting that it is good for them, although it is good for their customers. What is more significant lesson is that they don’t make any excuse for non-availability. Their dedication for duties is total.
  3. Memory management
    Did you notice that a good doctor’s memory is very good. He/she would remember history of his/her patients correctly, correct medicines’ name, spelling (usually complex), potency and names of manufacturers for innumerable number of ailments and case histories of other patients.
    What is the key – inbuilt sharper brain or they pop up some pills to sharpen their memory? Not any of these. It is registering the information without any conflict in mind and recalling it without any stress.
  4. Motto of service to customers
    A physician’s actions are completely oriented towards his/her customers and obtaining the results for which they have approached him/her. They never compromise their attitude to serve.
  5. Maximum confidence and concentration
    Successful practitioners give their advice or prescription with total confidence and rarely side or back track. Their focus on duties is deep.
    They are never shaken by patient’s condition, however adverse and do maintain their composure effortlessly. They are attached to their duties but detached from their customers while serving them unflinchingly.
  6. Marvelous understanding of their own body
    In leadership programs or schools, reference to this quality is by and large missing. It is extremely important to understand how you or your body would react to different situations, what triggers your emotions and how to manage the same.
    Doctors do very well on above count and hence, rarely fall sick or fall prey to sickening situations.
    A good leader needs to understand his/her body (including mind) well in order to be robust, consistent and persistent in his/her pursuits.

So, a good physician is a great case study at business schools and organizations!

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6 Comments
  • Rudra
    Nov 29,2016 at 12:50 am

    So we may get to know these lessons, more or less, from all small entrepreneurs – local garage owner, grocery store, the barber, restaurants… – except for the “Maximum availability” aspect because this is justifiably more relevant for a physician, well they charge extra for it anyway!

    So why a Physician? 🙂 There are good servers and bad servers in every profession! (probably asking because I have had very less interactions with Physicians, maybe once a year or 2 years – touch-wood)

    Got the essence of the post though! 🙂

    • Nov 29,2016 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks for your comments!

      Do other 5 qualities or lessons also come from every other small entrepreneur? At least I have not come across or known that whether grocery store owner or barber understands for example what is conflict of interest or how to manage it! Good and bad would always co-exist; but do you mean to say that every small business is as noble as medical profession or you have had a bad experience with a wrong doctor?

      Would appreciate your view on above.

      • Rudra
        Nov 29,2016 at 7:30 pm

        Yep, I certainly think so! For e.g. a restaurant owner can be faced with conflict of interest – treat his/her customers for self-interest (provide comparatively less or low quality food) or serve them selflessly. When you order a Paneer Tikka Masala as home delivery, you don’t weigh or measure it if it came with right quantity, compared to what you have while dining-in at the restaurant. He could easily take back couple of spoons from that parceled pouch of gravy and you will not notice it for sure. Same goes with grocery stores when they deliver the grocery at home. Now, a few grams here and there is not cheating, but it’s a question about ‘conflict of interest’.

        Some barbers may cut your hair in such a way that you have to pay him a visit within a month again and vice versa, so conflict of interest here? 🙂

        I have seen many restaurants and barbers who serve poor people free of cost. Agree there are not many, but they do exist.

        I understand that the medical profession is such a noble vocation, but Sir… they charge 4 or 5 times more than a normal professional! They have to be noble – no option.

        There are many professions who do stuff for free, for a noble cause – whether a Physician or a Barber. But most of them do it for money. More you pay, more they behave decent.

        That being said, the maximum percentage of my vote inclines to a Physician – solely because of the nature of their job.

        I still think “khana khilane se punya kaam aur kuch nahi”. Nothing is more noble than providing food to the people. So hail the restaurants… 🙂

        I learn things from everyone! Cheers…

        • Nov 30,2016 at 3:12 pm

          Thanks a lot for your additional comments!

          Question is not about existence of conflict of interests – it exists even when we want to prove a point, not to talk about small or big entrepreneurs; question is about who manages conflict of interests (honesty) and who manipulate same (dishonesty).

  • Murli
    Nov 28,2016 at 4:22 pm

    From: Chalapati Rao Saka [mailto:chalapati@….]
    Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2016 10:19 PM
    To: Murli Lohia
    Subject: Re: Six leadership lessons highly worth learning from psychology of a physician

    Very well said. An excellent analysis. I agree that there is a lot to learn from the Medical Doctors in how they solve problems, how they handle customers (patients), how they handle crisis, team work, precision, preparation, planning and care. In the process they win our trust. We don’t bargain, we don’t ask for any scope of work, we don’t evaluate their processes or procedures. We trust them and submit our lives in their hands.
    I have a doctor brother who is a year younger to me and have seen him work for very long hours some time upto 18 hours, without complaining. I learn a lot from him and there are miles to go before I go any where near his level of service.

    with best regards, Rao

    • Nov 28,2016 at 4:24 pm

      I highly admire your very intellectual and factual views and feedback!

      What you have said has immense significance. People or leadership courses/ program hardly draw a parallel to practicing physicians in their learning. There is indeed a lot to learn from them. They are also living examples for how customers should be served.

      I am sharing your message as comment to this article for larger good of the readers.

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