Leadership is often misidentified as management. Certainly management is necessary to achieve any great goal. However, is it the correct goal? This is where ethical leadership steps in to give clarity to the community in its effort to achieve greatness in that society. There is always tension in what is an ethical goal. The obvious goal in any society for health is to lead long healthy lives with suffering only for very short periods of time before death takes us. When economic principles supersede the desire for health, a very suffering population can result.
The best way to understand the difference in leadership and management is the story that I heard in the 1980’s. We were attempting to add excellence in quality to a manufacturing environment. We listened to many quality gurus describe processes necessary to achieve the goals. But one story clearly differentiated the process of achieving the goal versus defining the goal: There was a team given the assignment of clearing a jungle and building a road to the other side of an island. At one point during the mission, the manager climbed a tall tree that had been cleared from the jungle. He relayed to the workers that the jungle cutters, the brush clearers, the road builders, and the people keeping the crocodiles away were all doing a great job. He could see the other side of the island and exclaimed to the group that they were more than half way there. On a tree that was adjacent, the leader climbed to the top. He raised his arm and shouted, “Wrong Island.”
Is managing health through evidence based medicine that spotlights only drugs, surgery, and other medical procedures the right island?
Where is the leader that stands up and declares, “Evidence based medicine when focusing only on drugs, surgery, and medical procedures is the wrong island?” “Evidence based medicine when focusing on drugs, surgery, medical procedures, and nutrients is the right island,” declares the leader.
And the economics shout back, “who is going to pay for the research on nutrients that will have no return except for health?”
“What will replace all the lost jobs in medicine and medical insurance?” the politicians proclaim.
Who is going to pay for the research on nutrients is answered by, us, the people. We have already paid for the research on drugs, surgery, and medical procedures that allowed the medical industry to achieve huge economic benefits. It is now time for the government to direct the largest portion of money spent on research toward nutrients and their interactions for health. It is interesting to note there is presently enough evidence based medicine for ethical leaders to make decisions on nutrients. But, what has clouded the effort is the desire to maintain the large sector of the medical-economic complex. Government has adopted the policy position that money to support the economy of healthcare is more important to the security of the nation. This has resulted in a population that suffers from a severe chronic disease epidemic. Could the problems of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes as the big three killers be corrected?
It is now time for our government leaders, Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court to make ethical leadership decisions. The health of the nation would give a much more thriving, wealth building economy than our present paradigm of the medical-economic complex can ever achieve. Are you going to be the change agent to motivate ethical decision making in health? Only through contacting your leaders at all levels will this ever happen. It is the people’s issue that must develop in a grass roots wave. The other choice is to maintain the status quo and continue with great management of the medical-economic complex.
“Wrong Island!” – Pandemic Survivor