3 Defining Characteristics Of Effective Leadership

Lead with empathy first and state your goals and objectives last

Anyone can be a leader. They may be a leader of one or many. But not every leader its an effective one.

Businesses and patient relationships are built on the basis of effective leadership. That’s because effective leaders inspire others to reach their full potential.

You may be an employee in a business or you may be the business owner. In both scenarios you are impacting the lives of others. Therefore you are a leader.

Whilst you are treating your patients you are there to inspire that person to be the best they can be. Above all, to achieve the outcome in their rehabilitation that they want.

Here are three characteristics that effective leaders have and they apply to anyone who is managing other people.

1. Putting People First

Many clinicians are focused on being a great therapist and providing the best treatment. Sometimes they forget to consider how their actions might affect their patients.

Or the business owner is focused on getting what they want from their employees. They don’t consider how their actions and requests might affect those individuals.

For example with respect to the clinician, they have assessed the patient’s problem and ask the them to do a set of exercises three times a day for the next week. Finishing with: “They will only take a few minutes!”

The haven’t considered how doing these exercises that ‘will only take a few minutes’ will impact on the patient’s personal life. And let’s be honest, how often does an exercise plan only take a few minutes! Especially when the patient is learning how to do them.

An effective leader, on the other hand, will treat their patient as a person first. They will endeavour to find out how doing these exercises will impact on their life. What needs to happen for them to fit these exercises in? Is it even reasonable to expect them to do three sets of exercise/day. An effective leader will listen to the patient to find out about any obstacles that need to be considered. They will find out how they can help.

Furthermore they will ask questions to make sure that the exercise prescription is both reasonable and acceptable.

Likewise the same goes for employers. Before making demands on staff, they will ask questions to make sure that the individual has the capability to take care of the requests. If not, then the employer can support the employee in up skilling or perhaps, change the request.

2. Displaying Empathy

Putting people first and treating them as human beings means practicing empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand the perspective of someone else. It also means you demonstrate that you are aware of those feelings during your interactions.

Effective leadership is built on a foundation of empathy—which starts with self-awareness.

Effective leaders know the influence of their ego and authority. 

Lead with empathy first and state your goals and objectives last. As a result you increase the chances that the person you’re working with will buy in to your way of thinking.

On the flip side, when leaders don’t think about how change is going to affect others, they can create toxic environments where nothing gets done.

Whether you realise it or not, when managing patients you are asking them to change behaviour.

Be aware of how what you are asking of the other person will impact of their life. This is an integral part of leading them to make better behaviour choices.

3. Prioritising Trust

Trust is the basis of any strong relationship. Whether that be between clinician and patient or employee and employer. 

Social scientists have confirmed that we trust people more, when we view them as being similar of familiar. Belonging is a primal instinct and if you can trigger that instinct, then you immediately gain influence.

As a clinician, how can you have your patient feel as if they are similar to you? Especially when in many cases there will be large discrepancies in age, culture, background, education, beliefs and even ideas?

One suggestion is to be very aware of the language you use. Words that you use in general conversation with peers may not be helpful in creating trust in people of different ages and cultures.    

Another suggestion is to listen carefully to your patient/staff member for terms/words that they use. If you use them in appropriate situations you are showing that you understand the other person. You are building a sense of similarity or of mutual belonging.

Above all, if you can create some form of shared identity, it will be much easier to build trust.

Finally, do you demonstrate any or all of these three defining characteristics of a good leader?

If not, then you might like to work on developing these skills to improve relationships and outcomes.

To learn more about motivational tools through effective communication download my eBook:

“Improving Patient Motivation In Physiotherapy”

I wrote this eBook in response to the most common question I get asked and that is “How do I motivate my patients?”

If you would like to fine-tune your communication skills when working with resistant patients, you might consider working with a coach or mentor.

Or perhaps your staff would benefit from training in this area.

Contact us, and find out more about what we can offer you.

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