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Partners in Practice

June 12, 2017

Practice Tip: Are you a great leader?


Are you a great leader?

To lead requires the ability to move forward. My question to you, my colleagues, is: Are you a great leader for your patients? Obviously there is no way I could answer that for you; rather, you should decide for yourself after reading this article.

There are three key characteristics that can determine your leadership abilities. See where you are great, and see where you can improve. Do this and everyone wins.

1. Make your own health a work in progress. This means that you “walk your talk.” I’ve been a health coach for a long time, and some of my clients are health coaches and doctors as well. Would it surprise you that often they do not do what they preach? This approach doesn’t work. Does this mean you need to be perfectly healthy? Heck no. But you do need to be in the process of taking action for your health. You need to have experience in the ups and downs of the journey so you can lead with conviction! The experience of being down the tough road and working through its obstacles is more valuable than being incredibly book smart.

Physical health: Do you practice being healthy physically? Do you exercise or extensively move your body daily? Are you becoming more sedentary, heavy, and less flexible as you age? Toss aside your excuses, whether they involve time, old injuries, age, etc. (the same excuses your patients may use). Make some changes, and lead your patients to better physical health by being an example.

Emotional health: Asking if you have any stress would be silly, so instead I ask: Are you sharing with your patients what you do to handle today’s crazy life demands and stress? Do you take intentional downtime, nap, meditate, or pray? Of course we can suggest some supplements to help, and that’s great; yet, leading patients to take a lifestyle action will help more in the big picture of health.

Nutritional health: If patients followed your eating habits would they benefit? This is not about having a perfect diet, yet are you walking your talk? I imagine most of you reading this are disciplined with supplements. This is good but shouldn’t end there. Some of my close friends who might be reading this joke, “I don’t eat it, I just supplement it.” This is not great health advice. Food habits can be challenging, even for us who are well-informed. Imagine the challenges patients have. If you can lean toward a whole food diet, your experience will be priceless for your patients.

2. Be consistent and focused. Staying focused on the big picture can be a very delicate topic for your patients. Of course being healthy and functioning better is the goal. For many patients, their reality is in the present moment and their current symptoms. Our job is to lead them successfully through both. If you haven’t set some personal health goals lately (one month, six months, one year out), there’s no better time than the present. It’s easy to make recommendations to your patients when you have experienced the benefits yourself.

Let your patients know where they are headed next. Maybe it starts with pain management and then better eating habits, gut healing, cleansing, etc. Everybody loves to have a great leader in their lives; we need to be that great leader for our patients.

3. Be a master communicator. Personally I think this is the most important trait to have. Master communicators take responsibility for all incoming and outgoing communication. If we give instructions and patients do not follow them, we need to accept responsibility for the lack of action. Following this approach instead of claiming our patients don’t like taking that many supplements or they won’t do this or that requires us to up the game and find out what isn’t working.

This really starts with you. Take a look at your own self-talk and see if it serves you. Do you have repetitive excuses like lack of time, being too old, having bad knees, etc.? If you use them, I promise you your patients will too. Overcome these, and you will be amazed at how much more compliant your patients will be.

Master communicators look for potential obstacles. Bring these up prior to them becoming a restraint to patient success. Almost daily I say something like, “It’s going to seem like you’re taking a dump truck load of supplements. And you are, at least in the beginning.” Or, “It can be a bit pricey initially. Yet ultimately it’s an investment in your health.”

Addressing your patients’ obstacles before they get to them will undoubtedly improve patient compliance.

Leaders, take action. Go make this your best year yet!

Opinions and methods presented in this article are those of the author and not representative of any Standard Process view or position.

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