Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 5 - Page 6



Both leadership and wellness have been defined and discussed in more ways than can be easily grasped and organized . While they are traditionally discussed separately , we are starting to better understand the intimate connection between physician leadership and physician wellness .

Leadership is about having a positive influence on others . If you are not taking good care of yourself , you will not be as good of an influence on others . When we are practicing what we are preaching , our words have great power and influence , whereas , if we recommend to others that they do as we say , not as we do , then our words do not carry the same weight and therefore have less potential to influence others .
You cannot give something you do not possess . Therefore , the journey starts inwardly , and requires you to be intentional about looking within to observe your thoughts , emotions and habits . You first identify who you are , and then determine where you ’ re going , and how you plan to get there for yourself and your team . Life is truly a journey , and an unpredictable one . We do not have foreknowledge of where life will lead us and what turns it will take us along the path . We must be prepared to adapt to everchanging circumstances . This is the truth . It is also true that , while we do not know what direction life will take us at any given moment , we are born with an internal compass that always points to true north , and it is always available for us to use at any given moment . The problem is that although our true north compass is always ready for us to use as our default guidance system , we override it because we think we know better and don ’ t need it anymore . If we learn to rely on our built-in guidance system regularly , we will create habitual pathways that function to help steer us like a rudder on cruise control or autopilot .
Personal or soft skills , such as communication style , self-motivation and how we relate to other people are the foundation we first develop and to which we add professional domain-related skills and knowledge . Let ’ s look at some vital tools that we can use to achieve our goals .
Mindfulness is the cornerstone to personal growth . Being mindful means staying focused on the present moment , which keep us from rummaging around in the past that no longer exists and keeps us from worrying about what may happen in the future .
Emotional intelligence is a relatively new field that we need to look at as another important aspect of our personal growth . Emotional intelligence is about being able to understand another person ’ s point of view or appreciating their perspective . We must become active listeners , truly paying close attention to what they are saying , and making sure we do not allow our minds to go off thinking about what we will say next . Make sure to give verbal cues that you are actively listening such as “ I see ,” “ okay ,” and leaning forward .
Building confidence is another key to success . We can build confidence by looking at our strengths and recognizing our talents . If you are unaware of your talents , ask your friends to tell you where you shine bright . Asking others for this kind of input encourages them to ask the same of you , which brings a positive and encouraging spirit to the table .
The American Association for Physician Leadership identifies seven key leadership traits :
1 . Adaptable . Dwight D . Eisenhower once said : “ Plans are worthless , but planning is everything .” Without adaptability , you can easily be too rigid and fall behind the curve or fail to change when what you are doing is not working .
2 . Ethical . Great Work Life describes ethical leadership as , “ The art of leading people and making good decisions based on a defined set of values , such as fairness , accountability , trust , honesty , equality and respect .”
3 . Visionary . A visionary leader shows favor towards innova-