A report in the British Columbia Medical Journaldisclosed that doctors, whom many believe are still among the most respected in the field of professional services, have one of the highest rates of unhappiness (Edwars, Kornacki & Silversin, 2002). The report distills interviews and information obtained from practicing professionals and provides several reasons for the discontent. Surprisingly, compensation and work hours were not considered a primary factor, but rather the perception of others as reflected through mass media and the belief that the general medical ethos has been changed. These findings suggest that individuals in high profile professions connect their sense of happiness much closer to how they believe others perceive them, rather than how they really are.
What this provides the contemporary leader is an understanding of what motivate and inspires themselves and others in their industry.
The military basic training embodies this concept as well as any industry in the country. Regardless of how fast, strong, or effective the individual might be the success or failure of a mission is never shouldered by them alone. The basic training model looks to break down the individualism and rebuild the team concept. If one were to ask any former military person, they will inevitably credit successful incidents or adverse encounters to a team, squad, group or unit rather than themselves. This isn’t false modesty, it’s an indication that service is a team sport – not an individual activity.
So what is the take-away or the “so what?” Effective leaders look for opportunities to team-build, collaborate and cooperate – ineffective leaders look for self-aggrandizing prospects where they become the focus of success rather than the facilitator. A powerful step that any effective leader can take today to improve personal and organizational job satisfaction would be to discover the persons most essential to the success of a project and verbally appreciate them. Not in an act of false humility or insincere accolades, but as an authentic gesture of gratitude.
Nigel Edwards, Mary Jane Kornacki, & Jack Silversin, (2002). Unhappy doctors: What are the causes and what can be done? British Medical Journal, 324(7341), 835-8.doi: 10.1136/bmj.324.7341.835