True or False: Team effort is people doing what I say.
The "right" answer? Both. Leadership is about influencing others to think differently or to behave differently. In that respect, an effective team leader gets people to do what s/he says.
However, if you are really going to influence people, you need to find the carrot and put away the stick. People are motivated for their reasons, not yours. And your ability to understand what drives the people on your team is a key factor in the productivity and profitability of your practice.
There is no "right" way to influence, because leadership is contextual. For example, if there's a fire in the office, ordering people to walk to the nearest exit is quite effective, not to mention necessary for survival. But an authoritative approach just doesn't work in non-emergency situations. The days of the Do-As-I-Say boss are gone. Even the military puts their top ranks through leadership training these days. "Command and control" is no longer a way to influence people. If you lead that way, you'll pay - literally. You'll have staff turnover and patient departures, because nobody likes that style.
To create true team effort you need to gain true commitment, not just compliance (which is simply "lip service"). When employees are internally aligned with your expectations it takes less external monitoring. They are more likely to follow through... and they'll bring much more energy and goodwill to what they do. How do you get this true team effort moving forward?
Tune-in to W.I.I.F.M.
WIIFM stands for What's In It For Me? The acronym-question is a good one to ask when the benefits of implementing an idea or method are not obvious. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that your employees are motivated by the same things as you are. This is rarely true. If you try to persuade your employees by what motivates you, your words will fall on deaf ears. As Aristotle said, "The fool tells me his reason; the wise man persuades me with my own."
The underlying idea is that people are best motivated by self-interest. Whatever you are trying to accomplish in your practice, people are most cooperative when they clearly understand the direct personal benefits that result from cooperation. To get true "team effort" you need to find out why your employees would want to do a task, provide excellent patient care, willingly help out a co-worker, etc. Once you understand their needs you can find out how to motivate them.
Employees like to know why tasks are being requested of them so that they can feel involved and that the task has value to them. When you relate the task you want them to do, to a direct benefit for them, you've shown them the "carrot."
Everyone is motivated by something. The question is: what motivates your staff? Motivation can be as individual as the employees who work for you. But you can boil down employee motivation to one basic ideal - finding out what your employees want and finding a way to give it to them or to enable them to earn it.
Take time to show sincere interest in your employees as people. Strive to understand what they are passionate about in their lives. What are their personal needs? What brings them joy or pain? What are their short-range and long-range goals? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can move them to a new level of motivation.
Care enough about the people who serve you to ask the questions and show interest in their success. By understanding their needs and goals, they will take more interest in understanding and achieving yours. That's true team effort!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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