04.24.09 Issue #372 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Nancy Haller
Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Team Leadership

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the demands on your time?
  • Burdened by the responsibility of making ALL the decisions?
  • Drained by the myriad of problems that crop up within your staff?

Leadership was never easy and it’s gotten a whole lot harder with the economic crisis we’re in. And as businesses move into ‘survival mode’, leadership is a whole lot more necessary. Don’t panic because there is a growing change, not just in the financial industry but within the field of team leadership. If you want to develop the power of your team, you need to take a new perspective.

The classic leadership structure is a ‘top down’ model. That’s great for documenting reporting relationships, identifying areas of functionality and job duties. Ultimately that arrangement means that the group’s effectiveness falls on your shoulders. It’s a heavy burden to carry, and it restricts your employees’ level of initiation.

There is a more vibrant structure of leadership that happens when you empower others to solve problems. An employee can show five levels of initiating behavior:

  1. Wait to be told what to do.
  2. Ask what to do.
  3. Make a recommendation then take action on it.
  4. Take action but simultaneously advise.
  5. Act on their own, and then routinely report it to others.

The most productive teams are composed of individuals at Level 5. The more employees engage in Level 5 behavior, the more efficient and effective your practice will be.

An empowered team is built on trust and mutual respect. Team building retreats are an excellent way to establish that foundation. One of the most effective ways to accelerate trust is a facilitated outdoor day. Team activities that are disguised as ‘games’ illuminate team dynamics quickly. After all, adults learn best by doing.

Recently I conducted such a learning day with a dental team. During the first activity – a simple ball toss – HUGE awareness was achieved. In a wild, frenzied way they threw koosh balls at one another and struggled to succeed in this seemingly innocent ‘game’. When we talked about how they approached the task, they recognized the parallel to the chaotic manner in which they ran the office. As a result of this ‘day in the park’ everyone is showing more initiative now. A small investment with BIG dividends for the practice’s bottom line.

Until you are ready to make a training commitment, here’s a group exercise to bring out the team leadership in your office.

Invite each of your employees to recall a time when they were on a successful team. This was a time when they felt engaged, energized, happy, fulfilled and most effective. It might have been a sports team in high school, a Boy Scout Troop, a work environment.

What made it such a powerful team? Tell the "story" about the events, situation, people involved, their involvement and how the team achieved its incredible results. Without being humble, what was it about you and your actions, thoughts and beliefs that contributed to the success of the team? Describe - in as much detail as possible - your personal qualities and what you value about yourself that enabled the team's success. Project a year into the future - the current dental team is functioning even more successfully than you imagined. What are you doing, how are your team-mates working together differently? What does success look like? How did you make it all happen?

If your employees are hesitant to participate, pair team members to interview each other. Then gather back together to share and compare the results. This activity also can be done with large teams by groups of 4-6 people.

The core themes and elements that come out of these successful times will emerge. Through further inquiry and discussions the entire team then decides new strategies to improve day-to-day functioning. The performance of the team approaches an ideal level.

Every time you encourage your team to talk about ‘peak experiences’, you’ll rejuvenate them with enthusiasm, engagement, energy and team optimism. With a deliberate focus on strengths and positively, you’ll build team leadership and loyalty.

Interested in having Dr. Haller conduct a Team Building Program for you?  Contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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