I was browsing through some books on leadership, reflecting on the qualities of effective leaders. Many of them were obvious – vision, empowerment, collaboration, creativity and so on. One stood out, as something I had never really considered as a quality of a leader, and on closer inspection there are few that deserve more exploration than the somewhat misunderstood idea of asceticism.
leadership for medical women; leadership; medical women; medical leadership;
In the final year of my previous degree, my graduating report for the subject of Information Systems and Organisational Development was titled “Gods and Monsters”. Inspired by the body of work (1984-1991) of INSEAD’s Clinical Professor Manfred Kets de Vries’ in leadership development and organisational design, the essay looked at how the personality and the idiosyncrasies of those at the top (the organisations’ leaders) shape the behaviour, culture, processes, and ultimately the outcomes, of the organisation and its people.
When decisions and leadership are called for I find that a course of action usually comes to mind. However it has taken me my whole life to try to work out an answer to the question: what should I then do next? If I act, or make a suggestion, the outcome may be good. However a corollary may be that other people will not feel that they have had their views accepted or their desires met. Others, who might be less self confident or less assertive, may not have a chance to advance their views. Valuable ideas may be lost.
In an environment that continually demands more from doctors, it is even more important to practise good medicine and to still be a friend, daughter, son, wife, husband, mother, or father. Maintaining a balance between responsibilities at work and at home is important in continuing our personal health, growth and development.
We are all over-achievers. No-one is in medicine because they couldn’t really be bothered or weren’t a little bit consumed by being the best. And more than likely we continue to be a bit consumed by being the best at several things. So it is natural that there will be many facets of our lives that we want to do well in and are competing for our attention. We cannot stop ourselves from having busy lives. If we make the decision to work part time it will inevitably be so that we can fill that time with sporting commitments, artistic pursuits, hobbies, research projects or motherhood. When we retire we will find countless ways to fill our days with new hobbies, skills we never learned and always wanted to, volunteer positions, social and family commitments. It is not in our nature to sit back and watch others – as soon as we have free time we are excited by the prospect of being able to fill it with a new activity. What we can do is learn to manage our time so that we can be relaxed enough to enjoy all of the commitments we have.