Leadership and Mental Fitness

There have been numerous recent articles about the mental fitness of public leaders. The articles appear in self-help blogs, newspapers, and magazines. I recently came across a list of etiquette lessons that every child should learn. As a society, we are talking much more frequently these days about how we treat each other.

It seems that business leaders should also be evaluated on their mental fitness and capacity to lead. Based on an opinion-based editorial that appeared in the LA Times recently (Gourguechon) there are five qualities that define strong and strategic leadership. These criteria are condensed from the US Army Field Manual 6-22 Leader Development. (2015)

Trust: Trust is thought to be fundamental to the functioning of a team or alliance in any setting. Leaders who do not instill trust or enjoy it from others cannot get individuals to work together.

Discipline and self-control: Leaders must demonstrate control over their personal behavior and align that behavior with Army core values. Psychological filters or neurologic braking systems become very important as a leader. Leaders must be able to deal with disturbing thoughts, and powerful emotions, without doing everything that comes to mind.

Judgment and crucial thinking: These are complex and high level components of mental function. These include skills and abilities to assess, differentiate, plan, prioritize and compare. Deficiencies in these areas cause rigid and inflexible thinking.

Self-awareness: Leaders with this quality have the ability to reflect and the interest in doing so. They recognize their effect on others and are open to feedback. They know themselves, and do not blame subordinates for failures.

Empathy: I found this to be a surprising trait listed in an Army manual. Leaders who understand another person’s point of view and can understand someone else’s feelings and emotions have an essential component of leadership. This is a significant skill in the healthcare landscape as well.

While these attributes are not all of the characteristics a leader needs, it seems all of us in leadership roles should take a minute to evaluate how we “measure up” in these crucial areas.

 

Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

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About Turner Healthcare
As CEO and founder of the consulting firm, Turner Healthcare Associates, Inc. since 1993, Dr. Turner continuously implements the skills gleaned from over thirty five years of experience in the healthcare field. She began her career as a registered nurse in a Critical Care Unit and Emergency Department. She has served in top management roles, including Chief Operating Officer and Vice President, for various hospitals throughout Southern California. Dr. Turner was also appointed the first Statewide Nursing Officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Dr. Turner is an Associate Professor for the UCLA Graduate School of Nursing, Moorpark Community College, and has served as the Health Career expert for Monster.com for six years. Currently, Dr. Turner provides career coaching, planning, and advisement. She specializes in helping young adults seeking healthcare careers and individuals in transition, such as older RNs. In addition to her Bachelor's of Science degree in Nursing from Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles, she holds a Master's Degree in Nursing from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master's of Business Administration from California Lutheran University. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Business Administration from California Southern University. Her doctoral dissertation discussed the ramifications of clinical re-engineering of nursing services in the 1990’s. Dr. Turner is the author of numerous articles in national healthcare journals as well as the “The Nurse’s Guide to Managed Care,” and “The Nursing Career Planning Guide,” both published by Jones-Bartlett.

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