Physician Team Strategies

Physician Team Strategies, is a national healthcare leadership development company providing consulting to multi-disciplinary teams in healthcare organizations who want to build powerful, sustainable teams that make giant leaps in their performance.

Archive for Physician Team Building

What inspires you to action?  What sparks your soul?   You are invited to watch this motivational video and reflect on its insights and inspiring ideas. A great way to start the week.

At the Harvard Business School Symposium, Imagining the Future of Leadership, 9 expert thinkers were asked the question “What is the biggest mistake a leader can make?”  This group of experts identified 10 critical mistakes.  In addition to listing the ten mistakes I will identify the potential impact of these mistakes on an organization and team.  As you read through the mistakes, consider the impact on your organization and team. Feel free to leave comments.

1. Putting your own interests ahead of the best interests of the organization or institution you represent. –Bill George, Professor, Harvard Business School and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medtronic

Impact:  Others will not follow you; you loose credibility

2. Betraying trust. — Evan Wittenberg, Head of Global Leadership Development, Google, Inc.

Impact: Poor working relationships; Decreased retention; Decreased morale; Increased conflict

3. Being certain. — Dr. Ellen Langer, Professor, Harvard University

Impact: Failure to seek input from team; Team will not share critical information; Decreased innovation; poor decisions

4. Not living up to your values. — Andrew Pettigrew, Professor, Siad Business School, University of Oxford

Impact: Conflict between action and values; Not attracting qualified team members; not being a role model and walking the talk; distrust

5. Being overly enamored with your vision. — Gianpiero Petriglieri, Affiliate Professor of Organizational Behavior, INSEAD

Impact: Passion becomes an obsession; Unable to make unbiased decisions; Continuing on a course which is not relevant anymore

6. Displaying personal arrogance. — Carl Sloane, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School

Impact: Team demotivated; Increased potential you will make mistakes; Team will not let you know of mistakes which impacts patient safety; Increased potential for legal liability

7. Acting too fact. — Jonathan Doochin, Leadership Institute at Harvard College

Impact: Not having all the facts can lead to poor decisions; Not getting input from team can lead to not knowing the unintended consequences; Cost you money; May need to backtrack

8. Giving off an attitude that it’s all about the leader. — Scott Snook, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School and retired Colonel, US Army Corps of Engineers

Impact: People want a mission larger than themselves (example: providing quality patient care) and this leadership attitude can lead to decreased retention; Staff will buy pass you; Competition of team to look after their own interests, since you the leader are not a role model of the servant leader

9. Being inauthentic and inconsistent. — Scott Snook, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School and retired Colonel, US Army Corps of Engineeers

Impact: Team is confused of who is showing up today if you are having mood swings; Lack of direction/mission/values; Mistrust; Decreased productivity

10. Not being self-reflective. — Daisy Wademan Dowling, Executive Director, Leadership Development at Morgan Stanley

Impact: Not understanding your impact on others and the role your play in it; You play the blame game; Increased stress

In future blog posts I will go into more detail on each of these mistakes. I will provide tips and tools on how to identify and overcome these mistakes.  Overcoming these barriers to become a successful leader involves developing leadership and interpersonal skills.  Develop a leadership style that is you and is positive and effective.  If you would like to explore how you can become a more effective physician leader, you are invited to schedule a free strategy session with me. Click here to schedule your strategy session.

A video is available of these experts answering the question “What is the biggest mistake a leader can make?”

Watch the video on the Harvard Business School web site. Click here.

There is no Magic Bullet

As a health care leader are you struggling with how to get your medical team to work together and provide quality patient care? There is no magic bullet. As the health care team leader you are the role model. Your team looks at your actions and determines whether you practice what you preach. As the leader you set the team environment and culture. The following tip, if implemented, will set you and your team in the right direction to work on what is important. This tip you have probably heard before, but if you are continuing to have difficulty with the team accomplishing objectives, then you need to revisit this suggestion and determine if you are consistently caring it out.

Tip – Set a Clear Vision

Individuals and teams want to make a difference and be involved in something greater than themselves. Individuals who enter the medical field want to help heal the sick. Clinical teams want to take care of patients and not be caught up in burdensome paperwork. Does paperwork take precedence over patient care in your work setting?  Have you set a vision that quality patient care is the top priority? How do you demonstrate it? Do you acknowledge team members who have gone out of their way to help a patient or team member? Reflect on what your real vision for your team is and how you communicate it. Does your vision inspires?

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When you ask physician leaders about setting goals, they seem to be in either one camp or the other – they either do it or they don’t.    One of the reasons that people don’t like setting goals is because more often than not, their goals never come to be, so they just have resolved that setting goals may work for everyone else, but not for them. There is no doubt that setting goals is one of the best things you can do to make positive changes in your life.  But there is a strategy to setting goals in a way that will better ensure your success – you have to do it S-M-A-R-T.  S-M-A-R-T is an acronym to follow that will help you create goals that have more substance and a better chance of coming to fruition.  Setting S-M-A-R-T goals means to make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  You define them clearly with a realistic, yet challenging, quantifiable, achievable, and time bound action plan. Go back and look at your goals and be sure to make them S-M-A-R-T.

Break the Goals into Manageable Tasks

Break your goals into manageable tasks and sub-tasks.  If you try to accomplish everything at once, you can become overwhelmed.  Set a deadline for each task.  Determine if you will do the task or delegate it to someone else.  Remember, as a physician leader you cannot do everything.  Let go and delegate tasks which can be done by your staff and healthcare team.  Delegating to others on your healthcare team will give them a sense of involvement and free you up to accomplish your priority tasks.

What do you do if you’ve hurt a physician team member, intentionally or unintentionally?  Difficult as it is, your first step is to acknowledge it. You might say something like, “I’m sorry I didn’t follow through on what I told you I’d do,” or “I apologize for not listening to you and respecting your point of view.”  Doing this requires humility, but it’s an essential first step to rebuilding trust in any relationship.  The second step is to prove, through your actions, that you mean it.  Words without actions are meaningless.

Confronting issue in a non-accusing way

What if someone has hurt you?  You must gently confront the issue and tell the person, in a non-accusing way, what hurt you.  Begin your sentence with “I”, not “you”.  For example, “I felt hurt when you were critical of me last week.  I need to know you support me and believe that I’m doing my best.”

Developing Healthy Physician Team Relationships

This give and take is what healthy physician team relationships are all about. Whether you have hurt someone else or someone else has hurt you, taking these steps will leave you with greater peace of mind.  Do this, and you will have the kind of relationships that can handle disagreements and move forward when they occur.

When you as a physician team member have a conflict with someone, it can be very difficult to put your emotions aside.  Many people lead with their emotions, often to their own detriment.  Psychologists have discovered that more people behave themselves into new ways of thinking than think themselves into new ways of behaving. Sometimes we believe that we must have the feeling first, before we act.  But in fact, changing your actions will lead to a change in feelings.

Act Respectfully

For example, if you are in a heated discussion with a physician team member, you may not feel like acting respectfully toward the other person.  Act respectfully anyway, and see if you don’t feel your blood pressure falling.  You may not feel like listening to their ideas with an open mind.  Listen anyway, and see if you don’t find some common ground with them.

If you want different results, take different actions!

As the saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.”  Act first, and the feelings will follow.

When physician team members get into a conflict with one another, they often go on the defensive.  Team members ready themselves with their reasons, opinions, and certainty that they are right!  However, most of us give very little thought to the atmosphere in which our conflicts happen.

The atmosphere matters

The atmosphere makes a difference.  Conflict left unresolved will usually grow until an explosion occurs.  For your part as a team member or physician leader, do you make it safe for other people to come to you with problems?  Do people know they can come to you with a difference of opinion or something that needs to be settled, and they will be treated with respect?  Do you approach it as if you are part of a team, looking for a solution?

Conflict as a Mature Discussion

Conflict can be a calm, mature discussion between equals, when you both listen and truly try to understand each other.  Will you put your defenses aside for the sake of seeking a solution?

How to Ask Great Questions

Asking questions can be one of the best ways to enhance a conversation, but the wrong questions can actually hinder conversation.  Not all questions are created equal!  Open-ended questions are friendlier and more effective than closed-ended questions.  They usually start with “What” or “How”.

Here are some examples of how to change closed-ended questions into open-ended questions:

Instead of “Did you like it?” you could ask, “What did you like about it?” or “How did you like it?”
Instead of “Are you upset?” you could ask “What’s bothering you?” or “How are you feeling?”
Instead of “Would you like to do something else?”  or you could ask “What would you like to do?”
Instead of “Any questions?” you could ask “What questions do you have?”

Using open-ended questions requires effort.  However, the effort is well worth it, especially in a tense situation.  The next time you are in a tense conversation, make your questions open-ended, and watch the dynamic change.  You will have a much better conversation, and the other person will appreciate your communication skills!


Empower Your Physician Led Team

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Physicians: Empower Your Team Members to be their Best!

Are you ready to have a more positive impact on those you lead? Would you like to be the one who empowers others to be their best?  When physician leaders are effectively empowering their team, their lives are easier and their team is happier. When teams are empowered physician leaders don’t spend nearly as much time checking up on team members, putting out fires, or lighting fires under people who are not motivated. When people feel empowered, they will be at their best and get their best results. When your team is running smoothly and each person feels empowered to do their own tasks, it frees you up to do what you’re supposed to be doing – which is to be the best physician leader you can be.