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The big boss jumped up and down behind his big desk. In helpless confusion he yelled, "Where did they go? How many were there? What were they doing? Don't they know I am their leader!" Obviously, he had much to learn about leadership.

As a doctor or health worker, leadership skills will help you inspire and motivate people around you to do good things. Patients in your care will be more likely to follow your advice and co-workers will be influenced to follow your example. But, before people follow, you must show the way by doing great things yourself. One of the greatest challenges for leaders is learning to live with integrity.

Do What You Say

Integrity has been called the greatest of all virtues. It means wholeness or completeness. Integrity is living in such a way that your words and actions match. You do what you say you will do and your words can be trusted.

Integrity is not something you do at home and then set on a shelf at work. People of integrity do not live double lives. Their morals, ethics and treatment of others are always the same no matter where they are or what they are doing.

We have difficulty trusting leaders who talk one way but act another. If your patients or team members do not trust you, your influence and ability to lead will be weak. No one will follow.

A wise man once said, "People who promise things they never give are like clouds and wind that bring no rain." But if what people think, say, promise, and do all come together, they have integrity and will gain our trust and respect.

Do the Right Thing

Integrity means doing what is right rather than what is quick and easy. We have integrity when we are the good person we appear to be. Socrates taught that, "The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be."

Integrity does not develop in us naturally. It comes from a daily practice of doing the right thing. Below are three steps for improving your integrity as a leader:

  • Seek the best for others.
    Leaders with integrity ignore self-interest and personal gain. They reach out to do the best for those they lead. Leaders with integrity are not the typical boss, barking out orders for others to follow. Leaders with integrity are more like shepherds. They seek to get the best for others and watch after their flock.
  • Take care of resources.
    Leaders with integrity work to guard the resources of the group. That means spending money wisely, using volunteers fairly, and properly utilizing and developing followers. Leaders with integrity are like farmers. They take care of the land, guard the crops, and maintain the resources.
  • Never forget your followers.
    Leaders with integrity always keep their followers in mind. They are constantly looking for ways to lead, to take responsibility, and to do a better job as a leader. Leaders with integrity are like good parents. They are always thinking about their children.

Small Details are Important

Most issues of integrity you face in life will be small, such as telling someone you will do something. Whether or not you do as you promise may seem unimportant at the time, but throughout life everything you say and do will have a cumulative effect. All of your actions, no matter how big or small, will ultimately affect how others see you and the way you feel about yourself.

Reuben Gonzalez was playing the current champion in the final match of his first professional racquetball tournament. They were at match point in the fifth and final game when Gonzalez made a super hard shot into the front corner to win the tournament. The referee called it good and one of the linemen confirmed that the shot was a winner. But after a moment of hesitation, Gonzalez turned and declared that his shot had skipped into the wall, hitting the floor first. As a result he lost the match.

Everyone was stunned as Reuben Gonzalez walked off the court. Here was a player with everything officially in his favor-with victory in his hands. Then he disqualifies himself and loses. When asked why he did it, Gonzalez replied, "It was the only thing I could do to maintain my integrity."

Lead by Example

I encourage you to make it your goal to be a person who shows integrity in all situations. Over time, you will be rewarded with a greater sense of self-respect and trust. If you are right on the inside, you will lead correctly on the outside. It all starts with you and spreads out to everyone in your circle of influence. If you want to be a successful leader, live with integrity and lead by example. Remember, people do what people see.

As a doctor or health care worker, you are also a teacher. An important part of your job is showing people how to live healthfully, how to take medications properly, and how to proceed with treatment plans. Doctors and healthcare workers must also learn how to teach people to be non-smokers. This can include giving help and instructions to those who are struggling to quit, as well as showing that smoking is not good by your healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, nearly 57 percent of doctors in China are smokers. Lincoln Chen, president of the China Medical Board, says, "Smoking by doctors not only goes against their health ambassador image, but also effects their credibility when they attempt to help patients." In 2009, health minister, Chen Zhu, urged doctors and health workers to quit smoking and be good examples.

Do not forget the power of your integrity. Your example will influence others more than all the words you can ever speak.

Share with Friends

I hope these ideas will help you become more effective in your health care career. I invite you to click the link beside this article to share our Leadership Club with five of your friends. Only as you tell others will our influence grow. Together we can make big changes in the culture of smoking.

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