Defining Leadership

I appreciate the comments that have been shared by Arny, Norma and Victoria.  I HOPE MORE OF YOU will join in the conversation about the definition of leadership.
While you’re thinking, I’ll share an experience I had with “leadership” (or in this case, the lack thereof…)

I was once hired by a dental practice to facilitate a workshop on Leadership. 

“My staff lacks customer service skills”, the doctor said.  “They don’t communicate with each other well, and they aren’t getting along”. 

Several weeks prior to the day of the workshop I sent a questionnaire to all the employees and asked them to answer some questions about the practice anonymously.   

Based on their answers, I discovered the following:

  • No one understood what the game plan was
  • There were no written job descriptions
  • An office policy manual either didn’t exist, or they’d never seen it

Survival mentality was evident in this practice.  Each individual had the same goal—“get my work done and go home as soon as possible”.  The doctor was right, there was no communication, nor did anyone understand the specific role they played in the providing practice success.  Because this doctor had failed to provide clear expectations, the team was floundering.   There were no rewards or pats on the back when things went right; yet, individuals were being blamed by everyone else when things went bad.  

As unfortunate as this situation was, it was not surprising to me.  I had seen these types of behaviors and attitudes many, many times.  This office fishbowl environment had been conditioned by an owner who was not practicing effective leadership.  I looked forward to providing guidance to this doctor and mentoring the team through improved communication.

However, on the day I arrived to facilitate the workshop, the doctor had excused himself, and had left the office.  He assured the staff he’d be back when it was time to see the patient scheduled that afternoon.  This doctor didn’t attend ANY part of the workshop that he had paid me to facilitate to improve HIS practice. 

It was clearly evident to me why the environment of this fishbowl was so turbulent: this doctor must have assumed that all the problems with communication in his practice were the fault of his staff.  He didn’t know that as the leader, he was responsible for the environment of his practice.   

I invite you to respond with examples you’ve seen of both good and bad leadership…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *