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ER leadership: no shock & trauma

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Meeting Management,Office Management

Sometimes, the most spectacular results come from apparent chaos, like a shock trauma unit. That’s because leadership can combine rigid hierarchy with a fluid blending of roles.

Take these steps to control the chaos in your operation:
  • Provide strategic direction. Researchers studying the emergency room in a Baltimore hospital found that leadership can’t reside in a single person or job because personnel shifts happen frequently, and the work goes on around the clock. Three doctors head the unit, each guiding events and each deferring to higher-ranking doctors.
  • Monitor your team’s performance. Trauma unit leaders perform a kind of “dance,” stepping forward or back as patients’ conditions change and different doctors bring different skills. Emergency teams commit so few errors because the system requires expert support staff, and everyone follows a rigid set of protocols that the leaders monitor and enforce.
  • Teach what you know. Using a version of the “each one teach one” method, trauma unit leaders show new team members how to complete a procedure, then have them perform it at least once under supervision. After novices master the skill, they’re obliged to teach somebody else.
  • Give hands-on help. As the need arises, doctors jump in to treat patients, just the way a store manager helps ring up customers or carries packages for elderly people. That gives them credibility and reinforces their shared responsibility.
— Adapted from “Teamwork in a Shock Trauma Unit: New Lessons in Leadership,” Knowledge@Wharton, http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu.

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