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Physician Leadership Of Teams, Part II

Read Part 1 of Physician Leadership Of Teams here.

physician team leadershipDeveloping Your Team and Increasing Its Effectiveness

Leadership involves skills and abilities that are useful whether you are a physician in clinical practice or an executive in industry.  You could be developing a new medical device or managing a clinical trial for a pharmaceutical company.  Simply put, leadership is everyone’s business.  And the ability to build a team and improve its performance is becoming increasing important.     

Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, put it best: “No matter how good you are, the thing that makes the difference between success and failure is how good a team you have.”  The team you build, develop, and contribute to will reflect—above all else—the behavior you model.  The symbolic aspect of your behavior, both as a team leader and as a team member, is often its most influential dimension.

In my experience, the best teams demonstrate a number of key attributes.  Here’s what I’ve learned about high-performing teams—and what we can do as leaders of teams:

Best Team Attributes – Four Dimensions

  • Environment
    • Passion
    • Optimism
    • Shared vision, transcending mission
    • Respect, trust, collegiality, deep mutual understanding
    • Clear objectives
  •  Communication
    • Constant, high bandwidth, two-way, multi-level communication
  • Diverse Perspectives
    • Openness to new ideas
    • Open discussion and debate of difficult issues
    • Team problem-solving
  • Self-Renewal
    • Relentless drive to do better as individuals and as an organization

 What You Can Do—Leadership Themes

  • Create the Environment and Set the Tone
    • Create an environment that liberates the energy of individuals and the team, thus enabling  success.
      • Grant respect and trust.  Respect and trust are truly fundamental.  Without these building blocks, it’s hard to accomplish much.  By immediately granting respect and trust to your team members, you can set the open, positive, and collegial tone that is essential for team cohesion and effectiveness
      • Set expectations.  Set expectations, define guidelines from day one.
      • Define the space for success.  Create the space for success; define the envelope of goals.  Describe what success will look like, and outline (to set up for further team discussion) the general way by which you envision the team achieving that success.  Everyone needs to see a possible path to the finish line.
      • Build ownership.  Build ownership by broadening participation.  Even though this point is so simple and straightforward, many unseasoned leaders underestimate the power of shared ownership.
      • Reinforce cohesiveness through values.  Values guide leadership actions.  Seize every opportunity, large and small, formal and informal, to build and reinforce team cohesiveness.
      • Create heroes.  Give away the glory, take the blame.  Provide air cover for your team.
      • Maintain optimism in adversity.  Calmly and thoughtfully evaluate the problem, resolve it, and then return to normal operations.  Stay optimistic, calm, and focused on success, no matter what. 
  • CommunicateThere is never enough communication—and communication starts with listening.
    • Listening
      • Just listen
      • Apply proven techniques
        • Ask questions: Use structure, language, and tone to allow the broadest response space and information content
        • Pause
        • Think it over (“I wonder why…”)
        • Mirror (“So from your perspective, you see…, have I got it right?”)
    • Speaking
      • Begin from first principles.  Professionalism begins with putting the patient’s interests first.
      • Create a shared reality.  The first task of the leader is to define reality.  Beyond that, share your thinking and your concerns.
      • Give everyone the big picture.  The more people understand, the more they can contribute, and the more they’re motivated to contribute.
      • Clarify the logic.  Be very clear about the logic.  Strategies based on faulty or inconsistent logic cannot be communicated and understood clearly.  As a result, however powerfully executed, they will not succeed.
      • Close the loop.  Get everybody on the same page.  Give executive presentations and provide debriefs, written lessons learned.  Summarize and discuss high-level meetings for those not in attendance.  Critique and suggest improvement directions in individual work products.  Conduct team meetings to initiate specific feedback. 
  • Encourage Diverse Perspectives
    • Encourage open, challenging and diverse perspectives; build a “culture of candor” (Warren Bennis).
      • Appreciate dissent.  First off, express appreciation when someone articulates a different or dissenting point of view.
      • Seek newcomers’ views.
      • Embrace peer review.  Peer review is an indispensable component of performing challenging multi-person efforts successfully.
      • Appoint a “Devils Advocate.  This is a way to invite critical thinking, stimulate dissent, and reinforce the importance of looking at all points of view.
      • Structure competitions.  Set up competing teams and/or perform simulations.
      • Search for alternative approaches.  Actively lead and encourage the search for and use of alternative approaches and tools, to help uncover hidden assumptions, identify critical-path success elements, and highlight potential failure points.
      • Extract lessons from experience.  Review “lessons learned” from unclear objectives, flawed logic, hidden assumptions, inadequate challenging, and poor listening.  Consciously extract lessons from past experience and apply them to current challenges.
      • Implications: Different perspectives are valuable.  Diversity of backgrounds and experience of team members contributes strength to the team.  Each of us can teach and learn from others.  Collegiality and cohesiveness matter.
  • Model Self-Development and Renewal
    • Model professional growth, development, and self-renewal
      • Build a development plan
      • Critique your own performance
      • Ask stretch questions—pose questions specifically designed to encourage “stretch thinking” and develop management perspectives.  Example: “What would you do if you were in my position?"
      • Seize teaching/learning opportunities.  View every task an interaction as a teaching and       learning opportunity.  Provide commentary / feedback on your own and others’ efforts.
      • Use a mentor, ask for coaching, seek outsiders’ advice and perspectives
      • Commit the time
      • Reflect—use and communicate self-reflection as a learning path

Read Part 1 of Physician Leadership Of Teams here.

Reader Comments (2)

Very good presentation, a lot to learn from it!

Nov 22 | Unregistered CommenterMi

Many thanks for your feedback.

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