Taking the Hell out of Healthcare
Why adopt healthier leadership styles and management culture? What’s in it for YOU? For starters, it improves outcomes! An unethical or toxic leadership style may be conventional, but often leads to destruction. You don’t have to look long to find that the news headlines are filled with stories of resignations, firing, closures, and layoffs that are a direct result of toxic management. The inferior leadership style examples described below create a toxic energy (company, community, and family culture) that propagates errors, rather than improving outcomes. Read more to discover healthy and unhealthy leadership skills and practical tools that you can adopt today (or thankfully leave behind)…
In these next sections, I describe the concept of “driven” leadership and “driven” personality types versus truly motivated (and inspirational) leadership and personality types. What are the differences between “driven” leaders and “inspired” leaders and management style?
As a general observation, “driven” leadership styles and personality types primary operate within what neuroscientists describe as the “Fight or Flight Response.” This comes with specific qualities (outlined in more detail below).
In contrast, truly motivational leadership and inspired personalities operate in a more balanced way, moving fluidly between the “Relaxation Response” and the “Fight or Flight Response” as situations demand (and are appropriate). What does this translate into tangibly?
Achievement-Oriented or “Success-Driven” Leadership Exhibits the Following Signs:
- Self-seeking behavior, primarily operating for self-benefit, adopting the “do-me first” philosophy rather than acting on behalf of the betterment of the whole group
- Neuroticism, working to achieve success at any and all costs (legal or illegal), overlooking human rights issues, worker safety, healthy boundaries, and work-life balance, even making irrational self-sacrifices at the cost of personal and worker health, family, and personal obligations
- Adopting an “Ends Justify the Means” attitude to not just “tighten up the belt” but cut corners for short-term benefits, arbitrary milestones and appearances of success (sometimes illegal or morally questionable)
- Shame and fear-based motivation, operating from the standpoint of lack rather than abundance, a doom-and-gloom attitude that deflates others rather than uplifts and encourages others.
- Aggressive or passive-aggressive communication style and behavior adopts controlling behavior and procedures such as manipulation, embarrassment, and humiliation, while shaming, isolating, or alienating others inappropriately; utilizes sarcasm as a means of communication
- Hasty decision making (‘trigger happy’) is characterized by a lack of mindfulness. This lack of mindfulness does not take into account long-term consequences; does not carefully plan ahead; often takes on too much responsibility without delegation
- Routinely does not consider the insights, experience, opinions of others
- A lack of responsibility and ownership for mistakes or poor communication, blaming others, allots as much or more time to covering mistakes instead of preventing mistakes
- Taking too much credit, without acknowledging the vital contributions of others (big or small) that create overall success
- Unhealthy criticism, using overly critical language, overly inflammatory or dramatic, or frames criticism poorly, using blanket phrases like “you ALWAYS do this…” which ensures alienation of the listener and is often unbalanced (simply not true)
- Unreasonable expectations that instigate “a fight or flight response” culture that is higher stress than healthy or necessary
- Focuses too much energy or resources in job justification or gossip
- Inability to connect with staff, picking favorites, building cliques rather than building bridges
Truly Motivated and Inspired Leadership Styles and Personality Types Demonstrate:
- Healthy boundaries with self and others
- Frames criticism respectfully and positively, using “the sandwich method” that first introduces both successes, areas that need improvement, and finishes on a positive message
- Continues education in healthy communication areas to adopt positive communication skills and reinforce good habits
- Leadership has a team- or community-oriented emphasis for better collaboration, inclusion, unity, and high group and employee-satisfaction
- A strong value and skill-set in delegation that seeks to discover the talents and limitations of self and others; delegates tasks to appropriate individuals (not punishing or overly-criticizing others who are not properly trained or naturally skilled in a task, re-assigning duties as appropriate)
- Effective coping skills for stress management such as good self-care, work-life balance; expanding healing modalities for stress; observing labor laws
- Reasonable expectations set reasonable timelines and goals for self and others; abides by laws (including labor laws and environmental laws)
- Utilizes a positive reward system for self and others, such as healthy rewards and activities for project milestones and achievements, because it propagates positive behavior and reinforces behavior change
- Utilizes mindfulness skills which consider the consequences of actions and feelings of self and others
- Leads by example, by keeping a humble, gentle servant’s heart; removes ego; does not expect more out of employees and others than what they are willing to do themselves
- Takes ownership and responsibility for mistakes and behaves honestly and forthright
- Makes amends to others, self, and community as appropriate
- Practices patience with self and others, implementing good "pacing" skills
- Uses conflict-resolution and crisis-prevention tools; adopts an intelligence-over-emotion attitude
- Celebrates individuality and diversity, conveying a healthy minimum standard of respect and tolerance for natural differences and reasonable and appropriate self-expression
- Celebrates cultural and emotional intelligence (CQ and EQ, respectively), not just IQ
- Clearly communicates and outlines practices, expectations, and company culture to prevent confusion and reduce embarrassing situations
Effective leadership requires plasticity in attitudes and thinking. We must never grow:
- Completely comfortable
- Completely self-satisfied
- Assess and re-assess self, staff, partners, relationships on a regular basis to discover what is and is not working
- Engage in life-long learning, training, coaching, and mentoring
Adopting healthy coping skills is a daily, life-long process that creates motivational leaders, healthy groups, and pleasant environments. To make this a lifestyle rather than a pop-psychology fad, seek-out self-development and training resources that don’t just focus on achievement-oriented life-skills, or conventional appearances and perceptions of success. Instead, seek out motivated communities that inspire and train-up leaders for lasting, positive change!
Quality leadership resources can be found online and through networking. Wellness and behavior change coaches and advisors can be an important resource for inner-development. Some spiritual and leadership organizations, that work for healthy (balanced) personal development, and also for the common good, provide inspirational leadership training. They mentor leaders and also help members to develop effective communication tools.
Don’t just get inspired to be a leader. Be an inspiration to your world today!
When someone I love (or a client) tells me that they feel exhausted, I can't help but inspire and motivate them. As a road-warrior and wellness-victor, I keep a handy energy mental checklist of favorite energy bursting tips. Discover some of them right here for FREE!
Am I thirsty?
Remember to keep hydration drinks low in sugar and artificial ingredients (whether in the form of table sugar, fructose from juice or high-fructose corn syrup). Recognize that what goes up (blood sugar) must come down (and sometimes comes crashing down and that can create an energy slump and lead to diabetes). Some glucose is good. A lot can be dangerous and lead to chronic health problems.
- Alpha and beta adrenergic signaling responses that control the release of some neurotransmitters that speed up or slow down vital functions
- Some regulation of the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that controls vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood volume, the bowel movement, and breathing rate
Men and women will both experience autonomic nervous system dysfunction. But, presentations in females were often deeply pathologized; estrogen was always perceived as a risk-factor for this nerve dysfunction (making it easier to associate women with weakness). Real scientists frame it in a different way. Research reveals that testosterone is neuroprotective. While diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis do impact a disproportionate number of women, men transitioning into "manopause" and men with endocrine dysfunction will also be more vulnerable to neurological disease. Infectious disease, among other environmental conditions, can place virtually anyone at-risk.
A Neglected At-Risk Group
Because an abnormal vagus nerve response and abnormal vagus nerve tone (see highlighted link below to find a fascinating article with key definitions) are often interpreted in the clinic to be some sort of coping problem (somehow the result of the inability to cope with everyday-life stress), masses of chronically ill and even dying patients are rejected for routine medical care. Too many online forums report the same stories, only the faces change; if they first fall under this misunderstood umbrella, are triaged incorrectly, they can be blacklisted as patients. This is especially easy to happen with the convenience of the electronic medical records, where patients are labeled incorrectly and those damages carry over everywhere they go. There is no where to hide except in private care...or another country. Over the long-term, these patients’ voices may be silenced by deprivation, drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
Most people have preconceived ideas about the prison population, the under-employed, the chronically ill, homeless people, and people struggling with things like opioid addiction. Our society too often treats them as "bums" who are experiencing the consequences of their poor actions. Research defies our stereotypes.
As a rule of thumb, human behavior is best to be viewed impartially and without moral judgment. You don't know what someone's brain looks like (and chances are, neither does the patient's doctor or nurse). I pray for people like "Florida Man," an example of the disdain in our society for the poor and mentally ill. I don't judge. Research shows that brain injury rate is 7 times higher within the prison population. A 2019 study reveals that 65% of imprisoned women have brain injuries. Are these people being rehabilitated or cared for like animals? How many prisoners actually get a diagnosis and treatment? Brain injury, autonomic dysfunction, and poor vagus nerve response are interconnected. One’s brain does not need a traumatic injury to be equally as damaged in different ways.
Stress and the Vagus Nerve
It would be an understatement to say that stress impacts this nerve; but, stress comes in many forms (including central nervous system inflammation, a common contributor). It is absurd to try to distinguish between the "chicken and the egg" relationship between stressors and inflammation. While the mind-body connection is strong, these interrelating issues cannot be tweezed out from one another simply by willing them away or meditating it away (although meditation can help some symptoms, unless a patient is severely hypotensive…low blood pressure, that is).
The Problem with Under-Treating this Population
Some people would like dice patients up, and sever the nerve, to control hyper-immune responses (autoimmunity). The problem is, it never addresses the root-causes in most instances.
The dysfunction of the nerve is a symptom of something larger, in Bio-Pyscho-Social areas. Like many psychiatric diseases, vagus nerve dysfunction can be an early-indicator of neurodegenerative disease (or a late one in some cases) and other neurological problems (such as epilepsy, processing disorders and other malfunctions that are not detectable with conventional tests).
Coping with Dysfunctional People
Do you have people in your life who drive you insane? Push you over-the-edge with frustration, embarassment, neglect, or abuse? Are you holding on to bitterness and resentments because your loved-ones can't perform to your expectations? Does your family disappoint you? How about your bestie? That is sometimes understandable, but it may be time to make a change in your strategy for coping with the dysfunctional people in your life.
As an example, my own beloved loved-one presented early on with all sorts of autonomic nervous system dysfunction (among other things). Her pleas for help from conventional healthcare providers were met with distrust and dismissed as "an over-active fight or flight response" and sometimes worse. She lived in humiliation for years, and was even accused by a physical therapist of trying to "get something for nothing." Her untreated neuropsychiatric symptoms and associated vagus nerve dysfunction often made her life dysfunctional and the butt of jokes. Sometimes she coped well. Sometimes she didn't set enough healthy boundaries. She was never on-time. She made promises she couldn't keep. But, that dysregulation eventually escalated to full-blown amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease (an often fatal neurodegenerative disease). The warning signs were everywhere but our society did not want to listen. She was not the only one in our family and community dismissed and left with few, if any, services or help. Everyone judged her because we are a society of uneducated people regarding the neuropsychiatric issues associated with untreated inflammation...and we can not get her back. But, we can learn from her precious life and what it means to live with invisible illness.
As the article above suggests, vagus nerve surgery could be a valuable intervention in some extreme cases; but, not if the underlying problems are unaddressed. Why not get to root-causes first, before performing experimental and potentially dangerous brain surgery? All other options should be exhausted first. There are wonderful health products and medical devices that support the autonomic nervous system.
If prevention were valued in our society, early signs of neurodegenerative disease and neurological dysfunction could be slowed or halted. Countless healthcare dollars could be saved, simply by providing the correct diagnostics and getting to the root-causes of dysfunction early-on.
But more importantly, cleaning up the dysfunction of society reaps it's own rewards for everyone. Temporarily saving money, by ignoring the signs of neuroinflammation and related problems of underlying neurological dysfunction, is counter-productive and immoral. You may not want to help your neighbor, but ultimately it may save society from from tragedy (and reduce crisis-spending). We have a sick healthcare system and a sick society. Most crimes and underlying health conditions don't make the news or vital statistics. We can do better. YOU can do better. Your family needs you to step up and take control of your health and lives!
Addressing the whole person is vital. I take a Bio-Psycho-Social and Mind-Body-Spirit approach to health and nervous system care. My treasure chest of skills (crafted by life-experience and research) overflows with tools for these very unique, very individual needs and more. Reach out for inspiration today!