Leader of Self

By Stacy M. Menz, PT, DPT, PCS

I found it applicable that this month’s issue is on leadership because as I sit here to write this, I am preparing for camp! I have been volunteering at this camp since 2004 and our mission is to serve kids from low income neighborhoods and public housing by bringing them to a ranch for a week to work on the concepts of community. One of the pillars of community that we talk about is leadership. We create opportunities where they get to experience themselves and others as a leader. This may or may not include leading others, but it always includes being a leader of self.

What does this have to do with our profession? It is my belief that being a leader of self is the foundation of all leadership. How can you be a leader to others, let alone a company, if you don’t know where you are going? I have found that this concept of being a leader of self is a great way to introduce leadership to employees as well.

I believe we all want our employees to be self-motivated, striving to grow and provide cutting edge care. I also believe that we want to instill the idea of being responsible for one’s own learning, the teach the man to fish idea. By mentoring your staff to take leadership of themselves, you are encouraging ownership of their responsibilities and a sense that they create their outcomes. If your employees grasp this, might it not have a positive effect on your patients? Can you imagine what kind of a difference that would make? We have all learned that patients need to take ownership of their own physical therapy program in order for healing to happen.

I remember listening to the podcast PT Inquest and listening to the hosts review an article. It discussed locus of control and how that impacted patient outcomes. People with an internal locus of control believed they created their experiences and outcomes as compared to people with a more external locus of control who believed circumstances created their experiences and outcomes. So how does this apply to staff and leadership? Understanding where on the locus of control continuum your staff fall may provide you with valuable information that can support your team and your company.

How great it would be to lead in an environment where no one felt a victim to their circumstances, instead actively choosing their path and by their example inspiring patients to do so also. When employees choose your company with your mission, vision, and values, they are choosing their path and taking on leadership!


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