Conscious Leadership

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Just because you are efficient in completing your job and are able to navigate information systems within your organization, it does not mean that you are qualified to be a leader.(Heifetz,Grashow, and Linsky, 2009) Instead, being a leader, especially a conscientious one, involves being able to first of all identify those priorities that carry real value to you. Then the challenge is to earn buy-in from others even if this means basic systems within the organization have to change. For example, someone with authority can train employees on how to use a new phone system, but someone who practices adaptive leadership can lead a change in culture where employees are respectful of each other in all their communications.

Leadership must also be ever vigilant. Systems that fail often fail because of issues with organizational dysfunctions, group dynamics, and individual cognition issues.(Martin, 2011) Leaders should always be aware of the strengths and weaknesses within their organizations. Proactively analyzing where problems exist is a continuous process, and only a leader who is truly engaged can stay on top of the shifting dynamics within their organization. Addressing problems in the group dynamic can alleviate the potential for serious problems. Examples of this can be seen in many of the errors that used to occur in operating suites (wrong arm taken off, for example). Running an operating room takes an entire team of people for just one surgery, and the dynamics were often such that the surgeon was treated as the king of the castle. As such, no one questioned his decisions or they faced social pressures such as belittlement and group strain. This culture was addressed and a new culture of safety was implemented in many hospitals across the country in the 1990s. Now team members are encouraged to ask questions and someone who treats others uncivilly will be the one who is ostracized from the group. As a result, near misses are caught more often, and hospitals have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of wrong site surgeries.

When a leader is not acting conscientiously, they often seem unengaged with their staff. This may be because the initiative or value the leader is promoting is contradictory to their own values, and the distance allows them some ability to rationalize away their own behavior. Also, the leader may not want to be confronted by staff who question the new direction the leader has taken.

One way to respond to challenges concerning your own leadership is to maintain an open and honest dialog with your challenger. It could be that the person who is questioning your integrity merely misunderstands why you have come to the conclusion you have. If your stance has changed on an issue, it is important for those you lead to understand why your stance has changed. They may or may not agree with the reasons for your change in stance, but your integrity will be more apparent than if you simply refuse to discuss the change. Others will view a submission (without reflection) to a contrary position as a flaw in your personal integrity, whether from weakness, ambition, etc.


Multimedia Sharing & Health



When I switched my Facebook status from “In a relationship” to “Engaged”, my newsfeed immediately filled with ads for wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, venues, photography, and more! What surprised me most about the ads were how well they were targeted to what I needed and my style preferences…and how those tailored ads then started showing up on other sites that were linked to my Facebook account. Pinterest was one where the targeted ads (also known as suggested or sponsored pins) were spot on and it was easy to see the feedback loop. Pin a pin they suggested and they now have more data on you to suggest more relevant pins, which gives them more data, ad infinitum.


The “Small World” networks that you join are a source for a lot this information for advertisements. Most people have a small number of connections, but there are very few degrees of separation between networks. This is usually accomplished by people with a lot of connections who connect various groups with different interests (or rather connect individuals within the groups). Since people who connect usually have shared interests, you can gather this information and a good target audience. Shirky mentions this a bit in the book, Here Comes Everybody.



How can this be helpful to public health practitioners who want to promote health?


I think to answer that question, we should talk about the old model of advertising and how that is different. Advertising used to be about getting the message out to EVERYONE and getting a small percentage of those people (like seriously small) to convert to a purchase/behavior change/etc. With the rise of metadata and how much is shared online these days, the new model is to highly target those who are MOST LIKELY to convert on advertisements and focus advertising on those people. This was very effective for several companies whose advertisements I saw after I became engaged. I didn’t think that I would be one to click on Facebook or Pinterest advertisements, (I still haven’t had a relevant Instagram ad, though I’ve been seeing more ads more often) but when I saw the products and realized how perfect they were, I converted to a sale.


We can use this in public health to make sure we are targeting our ads properly to those who are most likely to benefit from them. We don’t want to waste money and advertise smoking cessation programs to people who don’t smoke. That money is much more effective if we try and target people who are already trying to quit smoking- maybe they have a Pinterest board with motivators, or they’re part of a Facebook support group. Those are the people public health practitioners should try and target- and their networks.


How do we do this effectively?


I think the keys for sharing multimedia in health are the same general rules for an online presence. Make sure you TAG your posts so they are easily searchable and discoverable by those who may not already know about your organization. Make sure there is consistency across your social media platforms- your Vimeo, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. should all have the same avatars and logos so users can recognize your brand. Make sure you give users a chance to give feedback on your photos or videos- don’t turn off commenting functions for fear of trolls. By letting the users engage on the posts you can see what interests them and you may learn some new things. Make sure you connect to other users on the platforms in an appropriate fashion- don’t spam them but also make sure you aren’t too exclusive in who you follow. And finally, make it easy for your followers to share your multimedia posts- make it easy for them to re-pin, for them to share your video, etc!




5 Things nonprofits shouldn’t do on facebook


These days, most nonprofit organizations have gotten the hint that they need to have a presence on Facebook. Searching for an organization on Facebook and seeing they don’t have a Facebook Page garners the same reaction from users as searching for a business on Google and seeing they don’t have a website: You just don’t look legit. But once you have created your facebook page , managing the page is a different story .

1) Don’t make your posts too long:

testing post length is the best way to gauge what your audience likes. The optimal length of your Facebook Timeline posts will vary from company to company. For some, longer, informative Facebook posts perform better. For others, short ones may work perfectly.

2) ) Don’t post images of just any size.

Pixelated, cluttered, or difficult-to-read visuals will not only frustrate users, but they’ll also give you a bad reputation.


3) Don’t post too often (but do post regularly.):

Yes, you should post regularly to keep your audience engaged, show them you’re present and listening, and answer their questions and concerns.  However, what you don’t want to do is overwhelm them with tons and tons of posts.


4) Don’t ignore negativity.

You can’t stop people from saying things about your organization , god or bad. What you can do is respond respectfully and provide helpful information .

5) Don’t neglect to monitor the posts or comments on your page:

The point of facebook is to interact with your audience who are already hanging out there.

Ignoring comments and interactions is like saying to your audience “I don’t care what you have to say.” To avoid this, start by making sure that the desired publishing options for your Timeline are turned on. Once you’ve got that straightened out, be sure to monitor them daily and respond when appropriate.

3 types of social media that can change your life


Considering that I’m not much of a social media user, I have not been paying particular attention to all the changes going on around me with the level of activity that has increased using these types of platforms.  A little bit of searching on the web has changed my perspective quite a bit.  Not that I didn’t believe that social media was taking flight and soaring at heights that have never been seen before, but my perspective on believing that this type of communication tool could be used to make a positive change!  I first consulted Statista, a credible source of statistical data across many different disciplines, and learned that the results of a 2013 U.S. survey demonstrated that almost 85% of grocery retailers with a registered dietician on staff promote health and nutrition by using social media.  Times have changed!

Statista graph

A little closer look at the social media platforms being used and I soon came to realize, that Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are among the most popular and/or effective for social media messaging.  However, it seems that majority of the organizations which are using social media are not sticking to one, and from the words of an expert in the field, Heather Mansfield, author of “A How-to Guide for Nonprofits – Social Media for Social Good” this seems to be a wise decision to make.  It’s important to diversify your brand online and by using various tools, you are likely to reach different types of audiences.

1) Facebook

Being the largest social network in the world, Facebook is definitely a great starting point for nonprofits to build an online presence and to start networking with important players in the public health field.  An interesting article in the Journal of Interactive Advertising featured an article “Health organizations’ use of Facebook for health advertising and promotion” by Park and colleagues from the University of Missouri reported nonprofit health organizations are most active in making wall posts compared to any other health organizations.  What makes Facebook so popular is because it enables people to participate freely, be open about views and opinions, engage in conversations with people, feel a sense of community and finally to feel connected to others.  The list is endless, no matter what nonprofit organization that comes to mind, you’re likely to find that they already have a face book page.  After all, one of the keys to success is to be an early adopter.  Some examples of nonprofits with hundreds of thousands to over a million people who have “liked” their Facebook pages are:

The World Bank:

United Nations:

Doctors Without Borders:

Samaritan’s Purse:

At first glance, all these organizations have eye-catching cover photos which reflect their message to the public about their mission and how they plan on changing the world.  These organizations are about the people and about engaging with the people – the personal touch that Facebook adds is what makes it so successful.

2) LinkedIn


This social media platform is definitely not as popular as Linkedin, but it is a must have if a nonprofit wants to find a way to organize a community of online supporters and to be able to recruit volunteers who are invested in their cause.  Its a great way to get like-minded people in the public health arena to join hands.  LinkedIn provides a platform for professionals to showcase their experience and skills and also enables them to seek the kind of expertise and knowledge that they are in need of.  This is a great way to share news with those in the professional arena and in doing so, may catch the interest of those who may have the knowledge and skills to contribute to the type of work that you are doing.  A short article by Daniel Hartman, summarizes 10 key tips that enable nonprofits to make the most out of using LinkedIn for social networking.  It’s encouraging to see how nonprofit organizations share information with one another such as through LinkedIn posts that often originate from another source of social media!  There is truly a sense of solidarity that is being built through social media networks which in turn makes nonprofits stronger.

3) Google+

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Have you heard of Google+ yet?  Well it may not be be as popular as other social media tools.  However, Google is by far the most widely used search engine.  Check out the stats…

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So what does this mean for a nonprofit organization that wants to develop a stronger presence in the online community?  Using a Google-based social media networking platform is going to help increase search engine optimization so this is definitely a good idea! Also, you can easily link YouTube channels to your Google+ accounts, so this helps to also increase the accessibility to one of the “Big Three”.

So you ask, how can these social media tools really change your life?  Well for one, they serve as a source of readily available information and a way for us to engage with public health organizations of our interest in a more personal and meaningful way.  And of key importance is that these social media tools help people to build strong networks that ultimately empower public health organizations to make a change.  It creates a space for sharing “best practices” as well.  With better input comes better output.  It’s as simple as that.

My experience with social media and health…


Social media is ubiquitous.. It sneaks up into pretty much every avenue of our life. As a society we are not a diagnostic challenge; we are tech and social media dependent. A new form of torture may simply be to remove all charging devices and be forced to watch you smart phone approach 0% with no means for salvage.. “But how will I let the world know I am about to eat a gourmet goji berry salad!!??”

In addition to letting the world know when we are eating something, or doing some “quiet meditative yoga” on the beach at sunset (who is that person able to photograph such an introspective moment?) we use social media for everything; to ensure we attend events, remember birthdays, alarm us to upcoming meetings, even alarm us as to when we should leave for the airport given current traffic conditions! And of course health. And I mean real health.. not just the glamorous selfie of unreasonably attractive people “just about to go for a run” #livelifetoday #harderfasterbetter #regretnothing – quick side note, who are these people? Nobody looks like that running do they? I look like there should be medical emergency team on standby..

Anyway I digress.. Yes people with real illnesses trying to manage their conditions and improve their health status.

– 40% of people surveyed (HealthCare Finance News) indicated that social media had a direct impact on which physician or health facility they choose

– 40% also reported that social media directly influenced which health care behaviors they would then engage in relating to their medical condition

– 90% of 18-24 year old’s (Search Engine Watch) trust medical information shared on social media networks (oh dear!!!)

– 60% of doctors feel that social media improves health care delivery through improving transparency and accountability

– 31% of health care organizations (Institute for Health) have a guideline for use of social media for marketing (Stanford hospital has a pinterest account – I still can’t quite understand this one… what do they pin? A picture of a shiny new MRI machine??)

So what lessons can we take away from this? Social media is the platform we now use for pretty much all communications now. So we need to be careful about the accuracy and legitimacy of the information available. While the internet is a very positive thing in many regards for informing and empowering patients, there is the distinct potential for misinformation. Patients are certainly keen to share their story if they feel aggrieved or like they have been wronged in some way. The uncontrolled discrediting of healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities via yelp reviews or other such means is also an incredibly powerful element of social media. The ability to publicize such unfiltered views on mass has not been achievable until now.

Previously you needed to be a bit legit to disseminate information, now anyone can write a blog (even me!) For these reasons I think we need to be careful with social media and how we interpret the information accessible, and try and promote good quality and accurate information.

How-to speak the language of Facebook


The advent of the Internet changed everything about the way people interact with one another. “The Web began making the transition from being static to social.” (Mansfield, 2012) We are no longer in the age where if you wanted to find out how someone’s day was you would just ask. Now, all it takes is a check-in on Facebook to know everything about your 400+ friends. Everything from what someone ate for dinner to where they are working out is all shared on social media.

But social media doesn’t just have to be for individuals. It is an untapped resource for public health non-profits. Social media is essentially free marketing for a non-profit. It allows the organization to connect straight to their target audience, inspire them with their mission, share how they are making an impact, and get them involved.

So if you are a public health professional working in a non-profit and you are ready to get started on social media, where do you start?

Start with Facebook

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Beyond Mirror Selfies and Candy Crush – Why your non-profit should be using social media.


Social media has swiftly permeated our personal and social lives.  Sometimes the association of social media with viral games like Candy Crush and updates on a reality TV star’s favorite meal can mean we firmly file these media mentally under ‘leisure or playtime’. image But even as the boundaries between personal and professional social media networking can be hazy, this doesn’t mean that there is not a real business need for social media in your non-profit organization’s work in health. The profound social changes bought by a technology are seen when “it becomes normal, then ubiquitous and finally so pervasive as to be invisible” (Here comes everybody by C. Shirky ) The social media tools are the ‘new normal’ and are becoming the wallpaper of our lives. According to stats from the Pew Research Center they are reaching ubiquitous… we can be certain invisible is coming soon. The for-profit titans of social media offer non-profits of any size, powerful tools to leverage the full potential of the internet in connecting your followers to your organization. An essential element for any organization but particularly relevant for those working in health education field. Social media takes you to where your supporters are or alternatively where your target population is. imageResearch suggests potential for social media networking as a tool for health intervention . Programs have used online networks of friends to promote health messages such as condom use and sexual health. Early results indicate there are measurable short-term improvements using these technology-based interventions. Translating this to more lasting effects will likely require multidisciplinary approaches, but novel techniques in social media are a welcome addition in future planning for health education programs. To get started consider these top 3 tips:

1. Approach social media like any other organization program or project and begin by setting defined goals and objectives for your organization’s social media activity.  You may be focused on raising your online brand awareness, fundraising, driving traffic through your website or even part of an intervention program. This planning phase will help focus your efforts.  Keeping the big picture perspective in mind will help you achieve more efficient choices of metrics as you monitor your social media impact. image 2. Diversification across media platforms is important for your organization.  As described by Heather Mansfield in Social Media for Good, this form of media is in a state of flux and your social media efforts need to be able to move with that flow.  Consider integrating your efforts with other media platforms such as blogging and e-newsletters to maximize impact. image 3. Don’t fear failure. This can be the big challenge, especially for small non-profits with limited resources.  Social media is an emerging and evolving phenomenon and finding the right tools and voice for your organization might require some experimentation. Even social media experts ‘build’ their fan base in an iterative process, trying difference content, different media and finding the right voice for each form of presentation. image Help is out there!  Several online organizations offer resources and guidance to non-profits embarking on social media communications, for example NpTechForGood and CCGHR and Non Profit Technology Network Some such as Social Media 4 Nonprofits also organize regional conferences on the topic. As you approach social media for your organization’s work in health, its worth remembering the words of Samuel Beckett… image