Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
Failure is never an opportunity for finger pointing and blame; it's a chance to reflect and grow.
When we're young students, we're assigned to groups to learn to work together with peers. This teaches us how to effectively communicate, be open-minded, and respect differing opinions; essentially, it shows us how to come to a compromise and arrive at a common goal. These skills are taught early and practiced throughout young adulthood with the hope that we bring them to our respective careers. Group work presents many challenges and reveals a person's character as he or she settles into a role. As effective leaders, we need to master the art of leading our team members toward success while encouraging and mentoring them. You're only as strong as your weakest player: Without the team, you can't effectively deliver the message of success and growth.
Natural leaders often emerge when placed in a group situation. These individuals possess the ability to clearly communicate with each team member and articulate each member's role and the objectives at hand to ensure the project's success. We must mentor individuals who have this natural ability to positively influence and lead peers. Their support is essential to the department's mission and vision, and implementation of new and innovative initiatives.
We need to foster team development to encourage future growth, both individually and organizationally. Creating a cohesive and collaborative environment among team members and management fosters mutual respect. Accountability for individual and team performance ensures fair treatment and clear work expectations among all members. As the leader of your team, you must lead by example. Be visible and engaged in the process. Celebrate successes, and share the praise with your team members. If a member of the team stands out, credit that individual. Remember that failure is never an opportunity for finger pointing and blame; it's a chance to reflect and grow. As the leader, you're ultimately responsible for your team's actions and decisions. Provide your team with constructive criticism and guidance that produce solutions for future improvement.
Don't forget to be an active listener. You need to really hear what your employees are saying. Active listening—to listen without thinking of a response before the person is finished presenting his or her concern—is a mastered quality. Allow yourself the time to collect all the information needed before responding. Even if the team member doesn't agree with your response, he or she will know that you investigated the problem and gave a thoughtful suggestion. Avoid judgment and mentor staff members to arrive at potential solutions.
In healthcare, we consistently work with different multidisciplinary teams to provide quality care to our patients. As the old saying goes, there's no “I” in team. Success and longevity hinge on each and every person.