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11.28.08 Issue #351 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Are You An Effective Leader?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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The recent presidential election focused considerable attention on leadership and the direction in which our country is headed. In recent years, many have asserted that we are facing a leadership crisis. How our new president and the lawmakers in Washington address our economic issues, the wars, health care, the middle class squeeze and other critical concerns remains to be seen. Regardless of your personal political leanings, these are major issues that have a profound and powerful impact not only on our country but on the world at large.

Thankfully you’re not dealing with matters that affect the global economy or world peace! Still, the leadership of your practice is no less relevant to your own economic well-being, as are the potential conflicts and concerns that you and your team must face daily, and the manner in which you lead has a profound and powerful impact on your personal success.

Do you have what it takes to effectively lead your team through the difficult (as well as prosperous) times ahead? As you look through the list below, challenge yourself to answer the questions honestly. We all have leadership strengths and weaknesses. The struggle, of course, is to maximize the strengths and shore up the weaknesses.

Communicate—Do you communicate clearly and continually with your team? You simply must express to your staff your practice goals and objectives. It is said that some two-thirds of employees do not know their employers’ goals or business philosophies. Open the lines of communication with your team. Encourage ongoing discussion, feedback and problem-solving from everyone.

Vision—Do you have a vision? Do your employees know what it is? Vision is the ability to see your practice not where it is today but where you want it to be when you're done. If so, share your vision and your passion for achieving it. If you see the practice you want in your mind’s eye and you share that vision with your team, you can develop the systems and strategies to make it your reality.

Ask Questions—Do you ask the hard questions regularly? Resist the urge to be satisfied with the simple answers. Look below the surface. Ask yourself every day what can be improved. What system is not delivering the results it should? Why? What needs to be changed, adjusted and improved? Remember that being the leader doesn’t require you to have all the answers, but it does require you to routinely question the way you and your staff do things. While you’re at it, regularly ask yourself questions related to your leadership. For example: Am I communicating a vision for my practice to my staff? Am I doing what I need to do to achieve my priorities? Do I give my team the tools and training they need to achieve their priorities and help me achieve mine? Do I give employees timely and direct feedback they can act on? Can I handle the pressure that comes with leading a team and running a practice? Do I need help?

Accountability—Have you established clear, written expectations for every team member? It is common for practice leaders to face significant challenges in establishing accountability among the team. Oftentimes, job duties and expectations are not clearly defined. Team members don’t take responsibility for their actions. The practice doesn’t have systems in place to solve problems and individuals waste valuable time backbiting, gossiping and wallowing in frustration. Accountability is key. It builds trust and confidence among the entire staff.

Courage—Do you take action when problems arise? Talk about issues and problems that stand in your way. Don’t look the other way. Address the issues that don’t make you popular: problem employees, showing up on time, following the dress code and office procedures, and treating each other and every patient with dignity, respect and patience.

Leaders demonstrate many positive qualities and chief among those is the ability to recognize their weaknesses and surround themselves with employees whose strengths balance the boss’s shortcomings.

Next week, surround yourself with a team of leaders.

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