You're a leader whether you want to be one or not. Whether you act as one or not. And whether you want the responsibility or not.
That doesn't mean you should be bossy. That's an unhelpful style choice. That doesn't mean patients must do your bidding. You can't control that. That doesn't mean you can abdicate your obligation when it's inconvenient. That's cowardly.
Leadership isn't a popularity contest. Some decisions you must make will be unpopular. Policy changes. Expectations of your team. Enforcing standards. Delivering bad news.
Leadership is creating a vision for a better tomorrow and doing the work to inspire others. To provide a plan of action that can benefit patients and the practice. To lavish praise and appreciation when earned. To create an atmosphere of trust. To awaken hope.
Leadership, like all social skills, is a learned behavior. It's never too late to become better at it.
Simply reading a book won't make you a better leader. But it's a start. Because leadership is a contact sport. Like riding a bicycle, you learn by doing. However, here are a couple that have helped me keep my balance while going forward:
The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga.
Your Stand Is Your Brand by Dr. Patrick Gentempo.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.
Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss.
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
Leadership, whether in your home, your practice or in your community requires a point of view. Going beige won't do. You must be willing to plant your flag--without resorting to the temptation of hitting others over the head with it. Rounding off all the sharp edges. political correctness or taking a poll to find out what's popular are strategies of mere hacks.
It's not surprising that before we can lead others, we must lead ourselves. That means being comfortable in our own skin. Acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses.
We must discipline ourselves, or others (or circumstances) will discipline us--usually with far less compassion. That doesn't mean we must be perfect. Far from it. It means we must adhere to our principles, even when it's inconvenient, unpopular or not understood.
Speak to the elderly and their regrets are often "the shots they didn't take," the opportunities they shunned in favor of comfort or safety. The deception that the purpose of life is to merely endure it has killed many before they died.
The key is to make sure we don't die before having fully lived.
Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at chiropractic gatherings since 1985. His 12 books explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. Since 1999 Monday Morning Motivation has been emailed to over 10,000 subscribers each week.