Occupational therapy practitioners are found in a variety of industries outside of health care, including automotive, architecture and non-profit sectors. Jim Burns is a major in the U.S. Army as well as chief of O.T. at Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colorado. He quoted Max Depree to support his opinion of what the key aspect of leadership is: selfless service.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality; the last is to say ‘Thank you.’ In between the two, the leader must become a servant.”

Burns integrates an abridged version of the U.S. Army’s leadership development philosophy in his philosophy of these seven values:

  • Discipline,
  • Motivation,
  • Altruism,
  • Physical Fitness,
  • Continuing Education,
  • Creativity, and being
  • Respectful.

Values emphasize behavior patterns, goal setting, and communication.

Each requires an internal force or the will to act. Collaboration and connection builds achievement. Social-being cues senses to form opinions. Design Sensibility initiates the will to act on leadership values, personally connecting and maintaining awareness through collaboration.

Leadership begins with surroundings that support values.

Sensory information transforms into brain activity then behavior responses. It’s the “language in which the nervous system does its business,” according to Princeton University professor William Bialek (National Academies, 2008).

Being amongst individuals that have achieved or are working towards similar interests is an excellent resource of who to be surrounded by.  What is in surroundings will engage sensations to react with specific behaviors. When surrounded by people or objects there is an energy force towards movement of being stagnant. How elements of collaboration and connection sets a pace for achievement is in patterns and processes.

Accountability creates form.

Patterns and processes prepare for the unusual and unexpected. Who, what, when and how surroundings engages servanthood – a term used by both DePree and Burns. Servants attend to tasks by actively listening, observing details and articulating needs. Engaged sensory forms sharpened by selected surroundings creates accountability towards achieving performance goals.

Questions to Ask:
  1. What surrounding constraints are present?
  2. What habits create a comfort zone or the ability to be stagnant?
  3. Where is there a lack of experience effecting end performance goals?

To improve leadership skills identify weak and strong behaviors by scheduling a Performance Assessment. A follow-up performance coaching session will identify elements to improving performance.

GIG Design | Intellectual Performance


DESIGN^body position | Consider your stage of life and history then opt-in a nap, if needed.


DESIGN^taste | Consider your self-care. This strategy to hydrating ignites focus + achieves body needs to be at leadership level.


DESIGN^sensory craver | Built environment consideration for those with an insatiable drive for enhanced sensory experiences.
Burns, Jim, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, Defining Reality, The importance of Articulating a Leadership Philosophy, OT Practice November 12, 2012, pp 19, 20.
From Molecules to Minds,Challenges for the 21st Century,Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2008.

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