Years ago Jack Zenger participated in a study to teach management skills to third and fourth graders. They got it – the importance of preserving self-confidence in your colleagues, the dangers of focusing on personalities. They then applied these principles to their parents, or “immediate supervisors. I smile when I think of a nine-year-old informing her parents they’re focusing on the person, not the problem. The conclusion? It’s never too early to teach leadership skills.
The Harvard Business Review blog where I learned this http://bit.ly/WshhfJ could have been focused on physicians. We physicians often come to our management/leadership posts and use the skills we learned in medical school – reductive thinking, manage by fiat and the ol’ blame and shame when mistakes are made.
Effective leadership is about asking questions, about being curious as to what works, about systems thinking. Leadership is learned by doing, by making mistakes and taking risks and improving your skills.
I coach physicians in management and leadership skills, by asking questions to help them look at challenges with a more comprehensive view, taking human behavior into account. Most of us avoid pain and look for pleasure. Watching another person being shamed lights up the same parts of our brain that light up when we’re the recipient. Yep – there’s concrete evidence for your feeling awful when your medical student colleague is embarrassed on rounds.
We also learn by watching. “See one, do one, teach one.”
What are you doing in your institutions to ask the right questions that will lead you to the solutions? What are you doing to model desirable leadership behaviors? What are you doing to teach desirable leadership?
How can you “Show one, watch one, debrief with one?”