The Circle of Safety and Medical Exhaustion

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In his book, Leaders eat the last one – why some teams get together and others don’t, Simon Sinek talks about the importance of a safe work environment for innovation, productivity and survival. He calls this space driven by the leader Security Circle.

It’s easy to know when we’re in the Security Circle because we feel it. We feel valued by our peers and we feel cared for by our superiors. We are absolutely confident that the leaders of the organization and all those we work with are by our side and will do their utmost to help us succeed. We become members of the group. We feel that we belong. When we believe that those in our group, those in the Circle, will watch over us, an environment is created for the free exchange of information and effective communication. This is key to driving innovation, preventing problems from escalating, and better equipping organizations

In the absence of a Circle of Security, paranoia, cynicism and self-interest prevail.

Perhaps part of our exhaustion crisis in medicine comes from the insecurity of doctors.

The healthcare world is full of dangers. At any moment there are forces working to corrupt our ability to do our job. Without the Security Circle, doctors burn their emotional energy by protecting themselves from an onslaught of administrative tasks and growing clinical demands.

For some doctors there are:

  • No sense of belonging.
  • Absence of a medical culture based on a clear set of values ​​and beliefs.
  • There is no real confidence or power to make decisions.

While there is a tendency to blame the victim, these three elements are not under the control of any individual physician. In other words, you can’t practice documents will way to a safe space no matter how hard they try. It is cultivated within organizations; it is part of the culture of an organization. And it calls for strong leadership from doctors. Someone to take care of those in charge and shape the Circle of Security as described by Sinek.

When the Circle is strong and this sense of belonging is ubiquitous, it results in collaboration, trust, and innovation.Find strong medical leaders to create a Circle of Safety and you will be on your way to conquering the exhaustion of doctors.

Easier said than done, for sure. But it is a beginning.


If you like this post, you might like it 33 Burnout Archive graphics. It captures everything that is written here about exhaustion. In fact, each post has small tags at the bottom that will help you find related material. Happy reading!

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