Tag Archives: Mindset

Six leadership lessons highly worth learning from psychology of a physician


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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Bitter pill of most Corporates – Difficult people Dominate!

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This is true not only of Corporate World but also of any type of institution or even families. Everyone craves that only decent people drive the Corporates; but, exactly opposite happens. No doubt, there are decent people at the top; but they are completely outnumbered by the difficult ones worldwide!

There are 3 ways by which difficult people find their way to dominant positions:

  1. Those, who are difficult by their trait, bulldoze their way up.
  2. Those, who are difficult by nature, find their way up clear, since decent ones give in.
  3. Those, who actually succeed because of their decency; but becomes difficult due to their duties!

1st category above is straight forward and easily understood. 2nd and 3rd are indeed interesting phenomena; so, let us look at same.

Though difficult people dominate, they are a drag!

It is a paradox that decency gives success; but success makes many people difficult! Difficult people make life of all of those around also difficult!!

Difficult people have following characteristics, which make them more visible though for the wrong reasons:

  1. They are aggressive and at times ferocious!
    Top management may confuse this characteristic as dynamism.
  2. They are inflexible, which is often (mis)interpreted as being firm.
  3. They can hold ground under tough challenges, which is good and is generally adjudged as managerial courage.
  4. They are rash is their actions and decisions. This is mistakenly seen as a virtue of being efficient and decisive.
  5. They lack empathy.
  6. They believe in command and not being congenial.

Organizations with difficult people at helm would always face bouts of successes and failures.

Why decent people buckle down

Decency is an extremely desirable characteristic. It emanates from many qualities like:

  • Respect for others
  • Empathy
  • Disciplined and dignified
  • Fair and flexible
  • Humble and honest

But, there is one problem with decent people – in pursuit of respect, empathy, dignity and humbleness, they develop tendency to avoid contradictions and try to vociferously keep their hands off perceived or actual conflicts. Even when it is desirable to engage in conflicting situations, though not caused by them and manage same, they prefer to abstain. A serious consequence of these tendencies is to discourage decent people to take tough decisions! In corporate sector, this is especially seen as weakness. On other hand, difficult people are resolute and risk driven, albeit for wrong reasons.

This is precisely the reasons why decent people fail to hold the ground and therefore, their decency carries a limited value!!

Why duties make people difficult!

To get good results and grow to higher level, you have to do it right. When you keep doing it right, you are most likely to go on the wrong side unconsciously; but ironically, your perception would become stronger that you are not doing anything wrong.

I know of some managers, who had important quality of “attention to details” and used it to drive great quality work. But after moving up to higher positions, they turned fussy and stubborn to accept any deficiency in work, even when employees had genuine issues. Such changed mindset of these managers led to demotivation of employees and deterioration of quality.

Look at practicing physicians – they need to have empathy for visiting patients. An empathetic physician does become popular. With increasing number of patients, the physician may find it difficult to maintain his/her empathy all time and that eventually makes him/her impersonal. There are cases of heart specialists having a very kind heart, which makes them prone to heart ailments! So, either they survive by becoming heartless or succumb to heart ailment. It does not mean that one should not have kind heart; it actually means to sustain kind heart, you do need something more!!

Following are examples of some attributes, which make people decent initially and difficult later:

  1. Ownership becomes obsession.
  2. Pride converts into possessiveness.
  3. Interpersonal skills change to impersonal attitude.
  4. Friendly nature encourages favors, in place of fairness.
  5. Courage translates into callousness.

It has been generally seen that people involved with bigger responsibilities, tougher duties and tighter schedules tend to become machinelike and impersonal. This is true of most CEOs, professionals like doctors, lawyers etc. They believe in decency but their behavior becomes difficult!

Bringing consistency in decency

Decency invariably makes you soft. You need to change softness into firmness by being daring and determined.

Another important thing to preserve decency is “Do not attach any emotion to it or make it your habit”. Decency should be treated as a force or inspiration, which must drive your life at all time!

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