Leadership development programs often focus on abilities or behavior and how these can be targeted towards effective management skill sets. A holistic approach takes a different tack that looks beyond credentials and competencies and delves into inner, often unseen, experiences as well. This holistic approach aims to help organizations tap into a broader range of responses or abilities to challenging situations. Things like coaching, training, job experiences and mentoring are all acknowledged developmental tools for leadership, but the question remains, are these enough or are these too simplistic?

Defining “holistic” can be complicated. The philosophy of holistic is defined as “characterized by the comprehension of parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by the whole.”  As it pertains to the healthcare field, a holistic approach can be characterized by the treatment of the whole person taking into account mental, social and physical of factors rather than the analysis, treatment or dissection into parts or symptoms.


Today’s business environment is so complex and fluid that traditional models for success may be too simplistic or incomplete for today’s reality. The Center for Creative Leadership has proposed an innovative approach, based on opening the door to managers capitalizing on their inner experiences; the physiological, emotional and mental, as well as visual actions or responses. Helping managers and leaders understand this inner world and thought process can lead to increased self-awareness, adaptive behaviors and responses ultimately leading to more effective leadership. According to Ideas for Leaders, there are 3 components for this idea of holistic leadership.


This refers to the physical, chemical and neurological functioning of our bodies. Examples of this are learning the brain processes between pleasure and pain. Even if these are as simple as missing a deadline or losing out on a promotion, our body apparently still reacts the same way.

Inner Content

Gut reactions and that inner talk we hear in our heads (good and bad). Our inner experiences define our relationships with ourselves and others and form our belief system and corresponding reactions, emotions, and thoughts to similar situations.

Conscious Engagement

This refers to our internal and mental abilities of observation to regulate responses. Our inner content flow of information is constant and mostly automatic. We can learn to become aware and therefore learn to direct all these processes into mindful responses.
The business applications of this philosophy mean that more organizations like Google, Target, General Mills and Apple are acknowledging and supporting the importance of cognitive health issues like stress reduction. The healthcare profession has seen firsthand, the effects on health when a holistic approach is not used. Focusing too narrowly on a patient’s symptoms often results in overlooking the connections between mind and body, resulting in mis-diagnosis and potential overuse of drugs. It makes logical sense that the methodology employed with patients can also be an effective tool for personal growth and leadership development. When looking at developing top quality healthcare leaders, we need to begin to shift beyond merely behavioral competencies in order to support a broader repertoire of responses.

NHS Solutions has a deep talent pool of highly skilled interim healthcare leaders who are well-versed in holistic management. Our interim healthcare leaders range from assistant manager to C-suite level. Many are experienced and qualified interim healthcare educators across a broad spectrum of specialties, both clinical and non-clinical. Contact us to discuss how an NHS Solutions Interim Healthcare Leader can make an immediate impact, filling a leadership gap with compassion, flexibility and expertise.

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