In Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, seven behaviors are examined in relation to how they contribute to being effective in achieving goals. The first of these behaviors is being proactive. Covey explains that proactive people focus their efforts on their Circles of Influence, meaning they proactively seek out opportunities to initiate and influence change in various areas of their life and career. The result is that proactive leaders find their Circles of Influence to be constantly expanding, and this expansion is the case with wise physician leaders. In this article, we will examine how this power of expanding influence is found in your impact outside your family and your practice.
The reputation of a physician doesn’t just precede him or her; it races far ahead of him or her, and it travels faster than you might think. In both small and large towns, in both specialty practices and primary care, for both young and mature physicians, there is an aura of reputation which permeates their community. When a new physician enters a group practice, we often recommend that he or she buy lunch for the staff within his or her first month of practice. This creates an understanding among the staff that the new doc appreciates them, and it initiates the leadership process. This is the beginning of physician reputation in the clinic, which spreads to the hospital staff and then to the medical community as a whole. It goes without saying that physician behavior supportive of a poor reputation spreads like a nuclear blast, while the construction of a stellar reputation occurs very slowly.
This leadership in a physician’s broader sphere of influence occurs for reasons different than other areas of life. Self-leadership and your position in your family is yours by reason of authority. Leadership of your group’s physicians and practice team is based in their permission. But leadership in your hospital, medical community, church and community comes to you by invitation, and therein lies the nicest of compliments about the person you are.
When your staff or the staff and administration team at your hospital ask if you will see and treat their family members, take those requests for the high compliments they are. When you are asked to lend your name to a civic event or fund raiser, do so, and then be present to add your personal support. Giving your time, talents and treasure is modestly beneficial to the recipients and can be immensely rewarding to you. Recognize these opportunities, invest in yourself and lead like your M.D. designation required it—because it actually does. Powerful leadership begins with you but finds its end, and its purpose, in the community of people who respect and admire you.
"A Good Leader’s Sphere of Influence Expands in Every Area of Contact" was originally featured in July's issue of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama's quarterly magazine.