Dust off that crystal ball! It’s time to lead

Effective leaders can foresee problems, and take action to prevent them

I once worked as a tech for an oral surgeon.  Narcotics were administered to most of the patients as a method of general anesthesia.  The danger in using Narcotics, is that they often suppress the brains natural reflex to tell the lungs to breathe.  The most dangerous time during surgery in a clinical setting is when the patient is beginning to drift off to sleep soon after the narcotic is administered.  It is commonplace to have to tell the patient to breathe, since the brain is suppressed.  Patients are not always conscience, but they will usually obey simple verbal directions given to them. 

In this particular office, as a patient was falling asleep, the oral surgeon would say to the patient, “Take a big breath”.  This command was given to every patient, male and female, adult and child.  It was very much a part of the surgical routine when administering general anesthesia.

During a staff meeting one day, Trudy, one of the surgical assistants, suggested that this simple direction to a female patient on the verge of falling asleep may sound different, and possibly even inappropriate when under the influence of drugs. 

“Can you guess what ‘take a big breath’ may sound like to a female patient drifting off to sleep”? Trudy queried.


Once it was brought to the attention of the staff, we understood that the word “breaths” may actually sound inappropriate to someone half asleep.  Thankfully, this office had not had any complaints from female patients, but this assistant showed effective leadership by seeing a possible problem.  It was very simply solved by saying “deep breath” to all the patients from that time forward. 


In this day and age of frivolous lawsuits, this innocent and routine phrase could have been the cause of a very costly misunderstanding.  But because of a leader that had foresight, there was no more worry about patient misinterpretation.


An effective leader will foresee possible problems, and strive to find solutions.


During the last month, I have presented, and you have shared the characteristics of effective leadership.  Effective leaders value knowledge, and are willing to learn from others.  They are courageous, resilient and ambitious.  And effective leaders foresee problems, and create solutions long before they have to.

Do you have any experience with a leader that effectively avoided problems?

Perhaps you could share a story about a time when you or another leader didn’t have the foresight to see a problem coming…

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