Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Looking for leaders

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 11 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:0-f

Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Doctors

Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Doctors

"If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall in the ditch." - Jesus

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the editorial by Fiona Godlee on Leadership in
medicine, a lacunae that is seen significantly in the healthcare system.
The need for a visible & palpable leadership at all levels including
primary care and hospitals is not an issue that needs a debate. The
intensity of the problem is rather global.

David Naylor feels that although doctors should in theory be natural
leaders¡Xbright, ambitious, articulate, and collegial¡Xthey are often poorly
equipped to lead, they are strong on cognitive intelligence and technical
skills, rather than emotional intelligence.

"Emotional intelligence" - A buzzword among the managerial, marketing
& corporate world, is Called by various synonyms as softskills &
Social skills. Daniel Goleman (1995) the author of Book called 'Emotional
Intelligence' argues that our IQ-idolizing view of intelligence is far too
narrow. Instead, he makes the case for "emotional intelligence" being the
strongest indicator of success. He defines emotional intelligence in terms
of self-awareness, altruism, personal motivation, empathy, and the ability
to love and be loved, a trait not measured by IQ tests, a set of skills,
including control of one's impulses, self-motivation, empathy and social
competence in interpersonal relationships.

People who possess high emotional intelligence are the people who
truly succeed in work as well as play, building flourishing careers and
lasting, meaningful relationships. He argues that our emotions play a
much greater role in thought, decision making and individual success than
is commonly acknowledged.

¡§Effective leaders are made, not born¡¨, says Colin Powell.

Qualities of leadership(Quotes) "Do we have these"?

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left
by those who hustle - Abraham Lincoln

A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the
value of life - Darwin

Punctuality is the soul of business - Thomas Haliburton

The price of greatness is responsibility - Winston Churchill

In matters of principle, stand like a rock - Thomas Jefferson

Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it - Syrus

Good management is showing average people how to do the work of
superior people - JD Rockfeller

Success is a journey, not a destination - Ben Sweetland

My countrymen should have nerves of steel, muscles of iron, and
minds like thunderbolt - Swami Vivekananda

Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A
smile, A word of optimism and hope. A "you can do it" when things are
tough - Richard M. Devos

If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then
we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it. That's all it
takes to get people to win football games for you - Bear Bryant

Does the workforce in healthcare possess the above qualities? I
doubt, not as much as we would have expected. Reason being not much of an
emphasis is laid on development of these qualities & Skills. Also
increase in the number of administrative managers is taking away the
opportunity to develop these.

For a healthcare establishment to be successful & efficient what it
needs is just not managers but clinicians with good leadership qualities
& social skills. The need for these qualities is already getting
reflected in specialist job interviews. To have a bright & effective
healthcare system for future we have to sow the seeds of these qualities
of leadership & soft skills right from the beginning of a doctor¡¦s
professional career, may be introduce them as a part of the academic
curriculum. Only time will tell whether we will be able to reap the
results of what we have sown.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 May 2006
Narasimhaiah Srinivasaiah
Research Fellow
Academic Surgical Unit , University of Hull, Cottingham , East Yorkshire HU 16 5 JQ