“Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.”
~ Immanuel Kant
A few years ago, I worked with what I would call the most challenging team leader of any project.
This lady had no real interest in the project. The irony was, she fought for the ‘Team Leader’ position and would be upset with anyone who appeared interested in the role.
Once she got the role, she had no interest in seeing the success of the project. She would report to work and sit in the office reading a newspaper or drinking coffee. We did the project unsupervised -and pretty much led ourselves.
After one year of non-productive work, she was fired.
All health professionals will find themselves working with diverse groups of people. The people in your team will come from different professions, be different ages, come from different cultural backgrounds, and have varied experiences and expertise.
How you lead your team may make or break the team’s success.
The team members working with you will look up to you for guidance and will notice every decision and move you make.
Your success will depend mainly on how well you communicate and receive feedback.
In this article, I want to discuss five skills that will make you successful when leading a diverse health team.
- Active listening
Listen courteously to what your team members have to say. Pay attention to what is being spoken as well as to non-verbal communication. The best leaders are actually very good listeners. If you always appear too busy to listen, or feel too important for people to reach you, your team members will lose respect for you.
- Pay attention to interaction among members
Pay attention to how different team members work jointly. Recognize the different roles every member contributes to the project or task. Watch how they communicate and interact among themselves and notice if it is positive or not. Prepare to calm any storms that may arise from differences in opinions.
- Expect resistance and prepare
Expect resistance particularly if you want to make changes. You will hear a lot of statements like; “we have always done it this way!” Or, “why do you have to change things?”
Plan to address these concerns in a way that everyone understands, or as best as you can. Avoid pretending you do not see the resistance.
Expect complaints and disapproval. The more illustrious your work is, the more disapproval there will be. Your team will respect you more if you can handle adverse criticism and channel it into productive hard work.
Have workshops or educational sessions to inform everyone about changes or new equipment.
Support everyone, compliment and encourage the team members. Value others, if you want them to respect you.
- Open communication
If you are unhappy with a particular person or their work performance, figure out a way to talk to him or her and bring about positive results instead of chattering behind their back. This will only invite disapproval from others and will expose you as a rueful person.
Stand up for yourself, your rights and for anything you acknowledge to be true. Be open and avoid surprising your team members by firing them without any explanation.
Leading a diverse health group requires these skills and more.
Share some of the experiences you’ve had while working with diverse groups.
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