What I learned from my doctor about leading comes from something he said to me, “Medicine is 95% history and 5% knowledge and technique.”
Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell the story behind this story. I went to my doctor on a late Friday afternoon. Feeling funny and feeling sore in my side, I also had a noticeable palpation on my stomach when I laid down. No pain. No symptoms of any other sort. I just that I knew something wasn’t quite right. And it hadn’t slowed me down any. The day before I had conducted a workshop in St. Louis to rave reviews.
My doctor, Jeff Warren, MD was concerned. Couldn’t really get a handle on what was going on. That’s when he decided to do a more complete history. We sat down together and went over, in detail, every medical situation I had gone through in the the past 30 years. When we got to the burst appendix that I had 26 years ago, it all started to make sense to Warren. “It’s your gall bladder and it definitely isn’t right. You are going to the hospital right now.” He called Methodist University Hospital, checked me in, and ordered the tests that would confirm his diagnosis. The next morning I had my enlarged, infected and blocked gall bladder removed.
On my next doctor’s visit, Warren repeated what he said. I asked him to explain.
He said he was confused about the situation, but it was only by taking a thorough history that allowed him to be able to sort things out.
Let me translate this into regular language. It was only by asking tons of questions, and listening intently and completely, that he was he able to figure it out.
What I learned from Warren is something we can all do better, especially when leading. Listen. Listen intently and deeply. Listen completely, and do all that listening before taking action or suggesting a solution or offering advice.
Here’s my quote:
“Leadership is 95% listening and 5% deciding on and implementing actions.”
Are you doing enough listening?