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Philos Ethics Humanit Med. 2011 Feb 24;6:5. doi: 10.1186/1747-5341-6-5.

The being of leadership.

Author information

  • School of Medicine, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, USA. chip.souba@dartmouth.edu

Abstract

The ethical foundation of the medical profession, which values service above reward and holds the doctor-patient relationship as inviolable, continues to be challenged by the commercialization of health care. This article contends that a realigned leadership framework - one that distinguishes being a leader as the ontological basis for what leaders know, have, and do - is central to safeguarding medicine's ethical foundation. Four ontological pillars of leadership - awareness, commitment, integrity, and authenticity - are proposed as fundamental elements that anchor this foundation and the basic tenets of professionalism. Ontological leadership is shaped by and accessible through language; what health care leaders create in language "uses" them by providing a point of view (a context) within and from which they orient their conversations, decisions, and conduct such that they are ethically aligned and grounded. This contextual leadership framework exposes for us the limitations imposed by our mental maps, creating new opportunity sets for being and action (previously unavailable) that embody medicine's charter on professionalism. While this leadership methodology contrasts with the conventional results-oriented model where leading is generally equated with a successful clinical practice, a distinguished research program, or a promotion, it is not a replacement for it; indeed, results are essential for performance. Rather, being and action are interrelated and their correlated nature equips leaders with a framework for tackling health care's most complex problems in a manner that preserves medicine's venerable ethical heritage.

PMID:
21349187
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3050817
Free PMC Article
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