Leadership Part 2: 5 Ways to Develop Your Leaders - E15
Last week we identified the 5 traits you are looking for in staff members that will translate into great leaders in your office. These traits were as follows: they buy into your core goals, they have the ability to not only learn, but teach others in the office, they have high emotional intelligence (EQ), they communicate well with you, the other staff members and patients, and they are passionate about the job! These 5 traits do not guarantee success as leaders, but it is giving you the best possible starting point. Now it's up to you to cultivate and develop these talents.
Before I get too far into this, realize that this has been my 5 step method I have used and refined over the past 9 years. It is hard, tedious work that needs your time, energy, and effort and you should not expect results overnight. Instead, this is a long term investment you are making for your office. That being said, here are the 5 steps:
Clear Guidelines and Goals
If you want a more in depth explanation see episode 6 where I outline this step ad nauseam. Just remember that you cannot set clear goals for the potential leader if you do not have a clear vision for where you are directing the office. Once you know your vision you can outline the task at hand for the staff member. I advise not giving carte blanche to them initially, as this may be their first foray into leading others and they will need an outline to follow. Make sure to put in checkpoints where they need to report back to you or the manager as not to get too far behind. Realize that the more experienced they are, the less you will have to guide them or check in. Walk before running here.
This goes two ways. The rest of the staff needs to have respect/trust in this leader and the leader needs to trust you and know what you expect of them and how they will be evaluated. This should have started to develop the moment you hired them and flourishes when you are consistent in everything you do. That can be how you offer feedback and criticisms, deal with patients, and your day to day demeanor. When they can trust how you act, they can focus on developing the same kind of trust with the other staff members.
Make sure to give them a heads up of what you are going to be putting them in charge of. You want them to be confident and competent in this role. If they have questions, they should direct them at you rather than their co-workers. The person that knows the most is not necessarily the best leader, however; perception may lead you to think otherwise. By nipping this in the bud, you will save on some potential resentment from the other staff. Additionally, make sure to tell the leader that the longer they are there, the easier this will become as new staff is hired. They will be leading other that have less experience and seniority vs their peers or people that may have been employed longer than them.
Let Them Have Room to Fail
You need to know they are going to fail and accept that as part of the learning process. Think back to how we learned to be clinicians, trial and a whole lot of error! Those 3 hour exams in clinic were far from our finest work, but we were given grace to grow and develop. You have to extend this same grace to your leader. Two things to remember:
They are your best staff members. They know your core values and will not be making catastrophic mistakes. The office will survive as long as you gradually give them a longer leash in regards to what they are in charge of.
Make sure you are there to coach them up and build their confidence back up. Failing is necessary to grow, but if you are not careful it could break a new leader's desire to continue forward.
Be a sounding board for them
The best part about letting them have room to fail, is that after they fall short, they will be much more open to coaching and not letting their shortcomings continue. This is your opportunity to guide them to the door you want them to walk through. This step works best when you collectively come up with solutions to problems. Avoid merely giving them the answers and instead work through possible solutions and ways to attack the problems that arise. I will make one suggestion: NEVER ask them WHY they did something. This will instantly put them on the defensive and make them try to justify their actions rather than seeking a better way of approaching the task at hand.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It would be so nice to set it and forget it, but remember you are coaching them to be the leaders you need and want. This takes time and nurturing. If you are not available to offer feedback, guidance, encouragement, and the like you are not going to get the results you want. The longer they are in a leadership position, the less of a role you will have to play. Give it time, do it right, and you will be able to focus on the things you want while they keep your well tuned machine running smoothly and efficiently.
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