I have always been interested in leadership and over the last few years I learnt more about it. And the more I read, see, hear and learn about leadership the more parallels and similarities I see with my work as a physiotherapist.
Principles of interactions are similar across the board. Whether it is interhuman interaction or your intrahuman interactions (your body’s interaction with itself).
People influence each other. If you are stressed, the people around you are going to be more stressed. If you are calm and relaxed, the people around you will do the same. Especially when you are in a leadership position.
Cells do the same, muscles do the same, joints do the same. If one of them is stressed, over time the rest will become stressed as well. If one of them is relaxed, they will relax the tissues around them.
When explaining the way the human body works to clients, no-one understands and is really interested in how arthrokinematics of the hip works, or how reciprocal inhibition works. That is ok as it is not important for the client. However, helping clients to understand the underlying principles, is essential for client engagement and thus treatment effectiveness.
When I translate the principle to a situation at work and use examples they can relate to, their eyes light up, they understand the principle and they understand how to solve it!
Most problems in a business can be solved through leadership. If someone doesn’t do his or her job properly, you can solve that through leadership. Sometimes the person just needs to go on a holiday, needs to be heard, needs some pampering or needs a kick in the butt. Ignoring the issue and hoping the situation will solve itself, can work in some situations. However, more often than not, by ignoring, the problem only gets bigger and possibly disrupts the entire team or even the entire company. We can all think of situations where that happened.
In the human body, the same principle applies. If an area doesn’t work properly, it is up to you, the boss of your own body, to find the right way to handle it properly. How? Same as how you would solve the issue in a work environment. You can rest (holiday) it, massage (pampering) it or train it(kick in the butt), or a combination of the three. Guess what most people do? Ignore it and hope it’ll go away. Doesn’t work in real life, doesn’t work in the human body.
There are a few other examples of similarities between injuries and leadership. The italic text is about the principle in the human body
WHERE YOU THINK IT IS, IT AIN’T!
When you think about it, the subject of an argument is rarely the thing the argument is about. The argument with your partner about the dishes, is not about the dishes. More likely, it is a build-up of small irritations over time that get lit up by a specific situation. There often is an underlying issue that gets projected. When you pay close attention to the other person(s) involved, you can see it coming, and take the appropriate measures to mitigate the issue before it becomes problematic. The best way to do this is taking a proactive approach. Talk and listen to the people around you to find out what is going on and where the bottlenecks lie. This builds awareness and allows you to prevent a lot of issues before anyone notices!
Unless your physical injury is caused by a trauma, the spot where you feel the pain is also not the origin of the pain. Small compensations over time lead to a stiffness in the tissue that is compensating. When ignored, your body will ramp up the intensity so you will listen! That is when you start feeling pain. Learning how to listen to the individual parts of your body will give you a good understanding about your body as a whole! The awareness listening brings, allows you to recognise and resolve small issues before they become problematic.
Imagine walking into the office every morning and only saying ‘Hello, good morning!’ to half of your team. First you’ll get some strange looks, and at some point that is going to create friction, starting with complaining and whispering behind your back, to full out mutiny.
Think of your own positioning behind your desk. You are probably sitting a bit slumped, shoulders and upper back rounded, your head forward. Sound familiar? The muscles on the front side of your body are being contracted ( goodmorning) while the muscles on the back are being ignored, day in and day out. No wonder your back starts to hurt!?
How to solve this? Say ‘Hello good morning!’ to every muscle in your body, every day! That keeps everyone happy and keeps the team (and your body) working effective and efficient.
In an organisation, everyone´s job is in support of the common company goal. From the secretary to the CEO, everyone´s job is essential for the maintenance and growth of a company. The symbioses between the different hierarchy levels is the glue that keeps the organisation together and healthy. If your operational level employees are undertrained, undervalued, overworked and not happy, mid- to top level management is unlikely to reach their strategic goals. Now business growth comes to a halt and that doesn’t benefit anyone!
Empowering and training operational level employees will optimize employee engagement and improve overall performance of the team and company. This stimulates growth and everyone benefits from growth!
In training everyone focusses on the big joints; shoulder, hips, knees, spine with fancy, great looking exercises like deadlifts, bench presses, squats etc. Don’t get me wrong, they are important! However, those are mid to high level management joints. Now think about how often you train your ‘operational’ level joints? Your toes and feet, your hands, wrists and fingers? Probably never. They need the same amount of support and training as your other joints.
If you can’t extend your wrists and fingers, chances are that your shoulder will compensate.
If your ankle can’t dorsal flex (toes towards nose), chances are that your hip and lower back will compensate for it.
How to fix it?
Train your ‘operational’ level joints! Train your wrist, hand and fingers. Your ankle and toes! Whenever they start to work better, they will support the movement in the big joints better, creating a bigger output and lower the risk of injury.
These are just a few of the examples on how to use leadership strategies for a healthy body
I like to finish off with a quote of the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi,
‘If you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things.’
If you understand the principle, you can translate it to all areas of life.
The next time you get injured or are in pain, and uncertain on how to proceed, challenge yourself to think about what you would do to solve a similar problem in a work situation!
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