What do you do when your whole world comes crashing down? This is exactly what we all experienced when the pandemic hit, and we had to close our clinics down.
I can list many conversations I had with physicians and healthcare leaders about being disoriented and unsure about what to do next. It reminded me also of a situation that a very successful surgeon, Michael, found himself into when he got sidelined from the operating room due to a back injury. He was devastated to lose a sense of purpose and identity.
Through our Physician Leadership Institute, we coach clinicians as they transition from Clinicians to Clinician Leaders. During the coaching process, we find that many highly accomplished professionals have gone through a good part of their careers with no clear purpose – leading to high levels of burnout, disengagement, and feelings of helplessness.
In fact, as much as 55% of physicians in the U.S. report some level of burnout, and only 10% are actively engaged in their organizations. These are dangerous statistics because lack of engagement and burnout may lead to safety issues and harm.
When coaching, we start with conversations about their life journey and assist them in articulating this journey in a personal strategy map. I believe a person without a personal strategy is like a traveler without a map or a clear destination.
They may be busy, but not intentional about choosing actions that will produce favorable consequences in the future.
A personal strategy map provides direction, guides actions and decisions, and gives meaning to everything we do. At the heart of a strategy map is purpose: Why do I exist? What brings me satisfaction and fulfillment? What is my gift to the world?
Leaders need to know their purpose and share it with others for several reasons.
With a strong sense of purpose, leaders:
- Are filled with and driven by meaning.
- Are better able to prioritize – spending time and energy on what’s most important.
- Have greater clarity. Stephen Covey said, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Purpose points the way toward to right wall.
- Are excited to get up in the morning and are energized by the possibilities of the day.
- Feel fulfilled by the journey and stop looking for success as merely an end point.
- Can deal better with uncertainties and disruptions.
A strong sense of purpose can improve resilience, management of emotions, and relationships. Research now shows that purpose also improves physical health and engagement in healthy behaviors.
Clear purpose has been associated with reduced risk of stroke, cardiovascular events, cognitive impairment, and mortality risk, while enhancing glucose metabolism and the ability to recover from wear and tear caused by stress.
By working through a personal strategy map, Michael discovered a new passion and purpose: coaching other clinicians that are struggling or needing support. He also learned that he must care and lead self-first, so he is better equipped to lead and care for others.
Coaching for purpose allows clinicians to discover a clear sense of purpose and find genuine areas of alignment with the mission of their work and organization.
We believe this clarity of purpose is a cornerstone of great leadership and that coaching is one of the best avenues to help leaders achieve it.
Additional Coaching Resources:
- A Guide to Executive Coaching
- Leadership Training and Whitepapers
- Webinar Recordings
- Microlearning Videos