Jack, a leader in major hospital, supports his team. Jack has lost focus from his health. But in his mind he believes he was healthy, so when his doctor said his cholesterol problem was chronic in nature and he will have to take medication for life, he was not ready to accept. We will explore more on this here.
What actions by Jack suggest his self-esteem may be negatively impacted by his diagnosis?
Jack is 36 years old and he is a leader in a hospital. He supports his team and helps them reach their goals. Eating healthy and exercise was his priority but due to professional reason, his focus on health has declined. According to Jack’s primary care doctor thinks he has a chronic problem of cholesterol and needs lifelong treatment. And he prescribed Jack medications to treat it, while Jack sat there in disbelief.
After leaving the doctor’s office Jack tears the prescription and throws the paper in the trash, this action shows us his self-esteem was negatively impacted by the diagnosis. Jack was aware of the fact that lately, he was not focusing on his health and his had family history, yet he tore up the prescription. In his mind, he was healthy, he was eating right and getting exercise, so he could not believe that he has a health problem that needs lifelong treatment. Cognitive dissonance refers an inner discomfort that arises when an individual holds two contradicting thoughts in mind simultaneously (Festinger, 1957). Clearly, Jack was holding contradicting thoughts in his mind.
What positive direction might Jack explore to help with the acceptance of his diagnosis?
Jack did learn something new, which was contradicting with what he thought or believed, so he needs to adapt to the new situation. He needs to first accept the fact that what he believed was not right and he needs to change his behavior. In this case, going back to eating right and exercising and he should listen to his doctor. This change would need small positive changes, to begin with. Like maintaining a healthy diet, then getting exercise. If basketball is not possible he can join a gym or find another alternative. Starting to take the prescription drug will also be a change he needs.
How can he motivate his team to get involved in the process?
Jack is a leader. He needs to lead from the front. That means coming out of the denial mode and accepting the new reality and making changes in his own behavior. Jack needs to ask 3 questions and find answers for those.
Jack needs to know “What is changing?” – In this case, there is a need for a healthy diet and regular exercise. As a leader, Jack needs to make sure that his team understands this and they need to make these changes too.
“What will be different because of the change?” Jack lost his focus from health because of his professional commitments, but if he needs to go back to healthy eating and regular exercise, he will need to change some things at work, that might impact his team. They need to work together so that they can come up with a plan so that each one of the team and Jack gets exercise and right diet.
Who is going to lose what? Jack needs to figure out the answer to this question. I believe, Jack won’t be able to give so much time to all team members all the time, maybe he can make himself available on the phone, or he can leave instructions for the teammates to offset that. Jack needs to make sure his team does not feel abandoned and there is a plan in place to handle possible situations.
Identify the potential causes in Jack disturbance of self-concept.
We see cognitive dissonance as Jack’s belief that he was healthy was challenged by the evidence and what his primary care doctor told him. And the element “healthy” was threatened in his self-confidence. Jack used to focus on health but lately due to professional reasons he could not, and then when he mentioned his cholesterol to his doctor, he said that Jack needed to take medication. It shook Jack’s cognitive dissonance and his self-concept was disturbed.
How can the behaviors related to self-disclosure and time play a role in helping Jack to accept and live with his diagnosis?
Jack can seek professional help. Although it is evident that he does not want to believe what his doctor told him, but as a culturally intelligent leader he needs to realize he needs to make changes in his behavior. So, he needs to accept what he found out about his health and then he has to self-disclose. He can find a good doctor or professional and seek his or her help.
We came to know that Jack is so caught up at work that he is not being able to focus on his health. He is trying to support his team and help them achieve their goals. This is a clear issue of time management. Jack needs to set some boundaries with his team and he needs to focus on his health too. He can talk to the team and explain why he needs more time for himself, self-disclosing to the team and letting them know about his health condition. Or he can manage the time in another way he finds suitable.
What role does communication play in Jack’s overall acceptance?
Jack’s team definitely depends on him, as we have found out that he supports them and helps them reach their goals. So, Jack does not want to distance them, rather he needs to be open and self-disclose and trust them with his own condition. So that the team understands why Jack needs time to invest in his own health. So, communication is key here, Jack can make them understand why he will not be able to support the way he was so far, yet not impacting the personal rapport he has with team members.
As a leader, how can Jack engage his team in this new healthy lifestyle while respecting his privacy?
Jack can create awareness and tell team members about adverse effects of stress, long hours. And they can change their behavior by taking small breaks and eating healthy. Leaders need to be adaptable, they need to think strategically, be mindful and to persevere. (Saylor, 2012, p.151). So Jack as a leader can encourage them to lead a healthy life and do the same along with them. As a leader, he can lead with example starting with making small changes in his own behavior and encourage team members to do the same.
Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Saylor. (2012). Cultural Intelligence for Leaders. Saylor Academy: Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0.