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John H. Cochran, MD
Health care leader

John H. Cochran, MD

Executive Director of The Permanente Federation, the national umbrella organization for the regional Permanente Medical Groups, which employ 15,000 physicians who care for 8.6 million Kaiser Permanente members.

Frank with frailties

Barack Obama still sneaks cigarettes. Gordon Brown has a mean temper. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin struggles with her weight. At what point do a leader's personal vices begin to undermine effectiveness? Is it better to hide them or acknowledge them?

Our credibility as leaders is partly what we say (the smallest percent), more what we model (a higher percent) and the greatest on what we re-enforce. So there is certainly a gap when the modeling is not strong.

We are all human with our frailties, so I think it is best to acknowledge these frailties and not hide. I don't think it is easy for those of us who have never smoked to understand the grip that nicotine gets on smokers.

I think it is also important for leaders who make tough decisions to be committed to learn when they don't go well and also give themselves a little slack as they will have to be prepared to make another tough, controversial decision soon.

By John H. Cochran, MD

 |  March 1, 2010; 2:26 PM ET
Category:  Leadership weaknesses Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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