I was fortunate enough to have the chance to work with over 500 doctors on their leadership skills over a 4 year period. We all know that doctors are smart individuals who are highly capable and committed. At the same time leading is very different to being an expert.
One of the first things we did was to explore the challenges doctors face in leading. So what was the main leadership challenges they raised?
Getting Everyone On Board
One of the great things about leading highly talented people is that there is the potential to get many great ideas and insights. At the same time it can be difficult to get people on board. It is easy to become so attached to your point of view that you find it hard to explore other ways.
Part of the way of overcoming this is to listen, explore and understand and make it clear that someone has to take decisions.
You would think that clinicians would be highly motivated individuals. After all the rigours of getting qualified as a doctor requires a huge amount of self motivation.
Motivating others is probably a challenge most leaders face. Yet here is an interesting thing. Most leaders, doctors included, rarely take the time to really find out what motivates others. If you never discover what motivates others it is always going to be hard to get the very best from them.
Tapping Into The Potential Of The Team
Doctors understand conceptually the importance of a team and at the same time admit that they find it difficult. Perhaps this might be down to the competitive nature of the training or the ability to achieve results academically through their own efforts.
As all leaders know, unless you tap into the potential of the team there is always going to be a limit to what you achieve.
Influencing and Persuading Others
This is similar to getting others on board and slightly different. There are many different influencing styles and the key is to find the style that is right for the situation and the individual you are seeking to influence.
Self Confidence and Self Belief
When you are leading a group of highly capable people it takes some quiet self confidence and self assurance to express your point of view or make the decision when it might be unpopular.
Often it is perceptions about how others will view you or fear that you will get it wrong if you take a decision that creates that lack of self confidence and self belief.
The Reality: Developing as a leader is really ongoing work in progress. You will make mistakes. The key is to reflect and learn from these mistakes and setbacks rather than them stopping you from taking the lead.
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