What a Complex Disease Taught Me About Leadership

DoctorA number of years ago I got very sick. So sick that I thought I was dying. I had quite a few different symptoms that made it difficult to diagnose.

Some of my symptoms included:

  • Joint pain.
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Anemia.
  • Fatigue.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Spots on my lungs.

At the time I was between doctors and so had to rely on a walk-in clinic doctor. He was very strict about only dealing with one issue per visit. For example, one blood test showed three things wrong and he made me take three different appoints for each issue.

His method was to treat each symptom individually and to not assume any connection between them. I got sicker and sicker.

It was not until I ended up in the hospital and the doctors looked at my health wholistically that they discovered that all the symptoms were the result of a disease called sarcoidosis.

This has stuck with me in the area of leadership.

When we are leading any type of organization, we will face a number of issues. The temptation will be to treat issue completely separately.

However, our organization may be facing something comparable to a complex disease. Each issue may not be the problem but the symptom of the real problem.

If we want a healthy organization, we need to look at the big picture, attempt to determine any relationship between the different problems. If we can treat the root cause, we will be much farther ahead in achieving our goals.

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