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Welcome to our Leadership Club. Our goal is to help doctors and medical workers become better leaders so you will be more successful. We also invite you to join our team and help us change the culture of smoking in China. If you are not a club member, join now. We will send you a new leadership lesson every two months in English and Chinese.

The topic of this lesson is the power you have to lead and influence people around you—and how you can get more.

Would You Like to be More Powerful?


If you are like me, you sometimes feel nervous, intimidated, and maybe even frightened before giving a presentation or speaking to a group of people. You may not feel like you have any power or ability to influence people. But I am going to give you a free trick that can increase your power and your performance. However, before I share this trick, let us talk about the power you already have and may not recognize.

You Have Power


As a doctor or healthcare worker you have the ability to change people’s perceptions and how they think about themselves. The patients you care for come to you for help. They are often frightened, vulnerable and worried about their health. They are looking to you for direction. They trust you to give advice and assistance that will make their lives better. Little things you say can have a big influence on decisions people make about their health. You have power to change lives.

Power to Motivate


The large number of people in China with smoking related disease has created a health care crisis. Although smoking is much less of a problem in the USA, we have another kind of health crisis. In my country, people eat too much and have become obese. America is one of the fattest societies in the world and it is killing us.

Unfortunately, many Americans do not recognize that they are overweight. Research has shown this to be true. A group of Americans doctors wanted to see if they could change the perception of obese people. The result of their study shows the power doctors have to influence.

Careful research discovered that patients who were simply told by their doctors that they were overweight were eight times more likely to recognize themselves as fat. A little comment by their doctor changed the way people saw themselves.

What is exciting about this study is that when doctors said something about a patient’s body weight being too high, obese people were eight times more likely to say they wanted to lose weight. Many patients did not recognize they were overweight until their doctor talked about it. Then they were motivated to make a change.

You may not feel very powerful. However, just like the doctors in this study, you may have a lot more ability to influence people than you think.

Increase Your Power


Although we often admire confident and inspiring leaders, we can only wish we had their leadership traits. If you are like me, you sometime feel weak and nervous with little self-confidence.

Several weeks ago, our team was at Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital in Hangzhou. I was scheduled to give a 20-minute talk to about 150 doctors and health care workers early one morning. I am always nervous before I speak to a large group but I was more nervous than usual. Shortly after returning home to the USA, I discovered an exciting trick I wish I would have known that morning.

Two Minutes

In just two minutes, you can significantly increase your feelings of power and this will increase your performance.

Amy Cuddy, professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, has discovered that we can change how we feel about ourselves simply by the way we position our bodies. When we cross our arms and legs and take up less space, we feel smaller and weaker. But when we stand straight, are more open with our bodies and take up more space, we feel more confident and powerful. Professor Cuddy calls this a power pose. Click to watch her videos.

We know that the best leaders are confident and have the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. They have two things:

  1. High level of testosterone, the hormone that gives feelings of confidence and power
  2. Low levels of cortisol, the hormone that makes us feel stress

The amazing thing Professor Cuddy learned from her research study is that business students standing for two minutes in a power pose made a big change in their hormone levels. Their bodies made more testosterone and decreased the level of cortisol. A simple two-minute exercise made students feel more powerful. This improved their confidence and boosted their performance.

Try it Yourself


The next time you have to give a speech, make a presentation, or attend a stressful meeting, find a quiet place where you can be alone for two minutes. Stand in a power pose. Better yet, do this every day. When you act powerful, people will treat you as if you are powerful. You will become more confident and more effective in your ability to lead and influence others.

Change the Culture of Smoking


Use your power as a leader to be a gentle influence in the fight against smoking. If doctors and health care workers across China will say a few words to patients about the danger of cigarettes, we will see big changes in the culture of smoking. Look for opportunities to encourage your friends and colleagues to join our team. Working together we can save lives and reduce smoking related disease.

By Marlin Gimbel
Leadership Club Program Director

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