Staff Development: 5 Traits to Look For When Developing Leaders in Your Office - E14
This is going to be a 2 part post: this week is about identifying leaders in your office and next week we will discuss how to develop the leaders once you have identified them.
To begin, I know what you may be thinking “Why do I need to identify leaders? I am the leader of the office”. I get what you are saying, but I would argue that leadership and being the CEO of your office are two distinctly different things. The CEO (YOU) has the vision and guides the direction of the ship and your leaders are the sailors that actually carry out the day to day mission to get you to the “promised land”.
Additionally, in order for you to work on your practice, other people (not you) have to work in your office. That means you need to be able to trust your leaders to get everyone else on board and give you freedom to focus on the big picture. That means common excuses such as “I do it better”, “They are not ready”, and “I do not have any leaders on my staff” need to be cast aside. Believe me, I understand where you are coming from, but in order to grow and make this a business vs a job, you have to overcome these objections.
Before I outline the 5 characteristics of good potential leaders, you have to know that good leaders are not always the best performers. That is your best optician or tech may not be ready to lead the rest of the staff in these areas. Too often I see people trying to do this and they end up trying to force a square peg in to a round hole. To avoid this, let's look at the 5 characteristics you need to identify in potential leaders.
#1: They Buy In
You still need to be the one defining and reinforcing your core principles of the office. These principals are your north star that will guide each and every action of the office. You know you have potential when you hear these values being spoken by your staff. The best analogy I can use is when I played football in high school and college. The best teams I was on all bought in, and I could tell this by how we all spoke. Whether it was to our parents, friends, professors, or reporters, we all were regurgitating the company lines. Your leaders will do the same with patients, co-workers and when interacting with you.
#2: They Have the Ability to Learn / Teach
This is something we try to identify during training or when we implement changes in the office. How a person learns is going to affect how well they can teach it to others. You leaders need to be able to be mentors and role models for the rest of the staff. If they are getting caught up in the smallest of details or are always doing things their own way, you are going to have difficulty getting them to guide others in the direction you want. I would also add, are you excited or concerned when you have to make a change and show your potential leader. If you have any reservations here, this person is probably not someone to designate as a leader.
#3: They Have Empathy / High EQ
I know this is a very new age concept and can have a touchy feely connotation, but hear me out. Empathy and emotional intelligence are probably the most indicative characteristics when identifying leaders. Someone with high EQ is going to have the following 6 traits:
- Not too emotional or sensitive
- They know who they are so they do not take things personally
- They embrace change
- Again self confidence allows them to roll with the punches
- They are curious about people
- When you can emphasize with others, you begin to wonder what makes them tick. This makes for a better patient and management experience
- They are good at self evaluation
- They put themselves in positions to succeed and avoid areas they are not suited for and will likely fail at.
- They are not easily offended
- Again this comes with emotional maturity. Others do not define them.
- They tend to not be perfectionists
- They know that sometimes great can be the enemy of good, and will not stop the machine from running merely because they have not reached perfection.
The best example I can give is when you see a staff member have their first child. All of a sudden there is something bigger than themselves in this world and the job is merely a job. This perspective will help them relate to other staff members and patients as well as help them not live and die with the ups and downs of the office. You want that kind of emotional maturity in a leader.
#4: They Can Communicate Well
First and foremost, they have to be able to work with you. You leaders are your filter/buffer from patients and staff. They need to be able to hear what you are saying (sometimes bluntly) and spin it in such a way that does not contradict your core values as an office. I personally can be a little abrasive for some, so my leaders allow me to not burn my staff out. Obviously this trait helps in patient care and customer experience as well.
#5: They are Passionate About the Work
High energy is contagious and you need someone that loves what they do to get the masses excited about the job. How do you identify this? These are the people that ask what happened during a red eye, that remember patients year after year. They yearn to learn more about why they are doing certain things or what they can do to be better.
There you have it. Take this week to identify these qualities in your key staff members and next week we will get into how to train them to be leaders!
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