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The Pain of Leadership

Dr. Scarlet walked into her dark living room and slumped down into the couch without turning the lights on. Her practice, Scarlet Pediatrics, was growing and she was grateful for that but this was also one of the most frustrating times of her professional life.

What was driving her crazy? Her team!

Ann, her receptionist comes to work late every day. She is a hard worker, so Dr. Scarlet wants to keep her, but no intervention has helped with her tardiness.

Her biller used to come on time but because Ann comes late with no apparent consequence, she started showing up late as well.

The office manager who held everything together just turned in her 2 weeks notice with no reason. Dr. Scarlet secretly went to her office and cried! ‘It takes a lot more than 2 weeks to replace an office manager,’ she sobbed. ‘Where am I going to find someone that quickly?’

As she thought of all of this, she remembered Taylor and smiled. Taylor is her lead nurse. She shows up on time, has the right attitude, is a hard worker, motivates the other staff to work as a team and if it’s a crazy busy day at work, she goes with the flow and makes it work. She also doesn’t have to, but when the day doesn’t go according to plan, she stops by Dr. Scarlet’s office and checks on her! She is THE ray of sunshine at Scarlet Pediatrics.

Most of the times, when faced with situations like Dr. Scarlet’s, we wish for the simpler days when we had fewer staff or when we did it all by ourselves.

However, running away from having or building a team is not the solution.

Like John Maxwell aptly stated,

‘One is too small a number for greatness.’

If you want to build a great business or lead an innovative initiative at your institution or chart a new path in the healthcare space, you are going to need people.

I always look at people like antibiotics.

Like antibiotics, they may work very nicely for your ear infection but they may also give you a side effect of diarrhea.

People will cause you pain but they are your greatest assets.

I have a few suggestions for you if you are a leader.

Embrace the pain. After today, it should no longer throw you off. It is part of the deal. Choose things you will do when you get hurt or feel frustrated. It could be a massage, a long walk, a long bath, a movie,an ESPN binge, brunch with a fellow leader. Keep that tool box ready so when the inevitable happens, you will know what to do.
Grow as a leader. See every pain point as an indication of a leadership skill you should develop. Do you hire bad people consistently? Then learn to hire. Do you bring people on your team but have little influence over them? Then learn the art of influence. Do you find that when you share your vision most people don’t get it? That’s a pointer that you should work on your communication skills. How do you learn these things? You can start listening to podcasts, reading books, getting mentors and hiring a coach.
On the other hand, if you are not the leader in your team. I have some words of wisdom for you.

It is sometimes lonely, painful and discouraging for the person who is leading your team. A lot of times, the members of the team are not aware of this and so do nothing to help, support or encourage. You however can be the exception to the rule.

Be the person that

  • Comes on time
  • Works all the time at work (as opposed to scrolling on social media)
  • Comes up with creative ways of doing things faster, cheaper, better.
  • Takes responsibility for results
  • Is dependable
  • Is a source of encouragement
  • Gets others on the team to do the same

As a leader, the people in my life that do this are like a breath of fresh air. In fact, they are like a trip to the clear blue beaches of Negril, Jamaica!

Since these are qualities that most team members are not exhibiting, it makes you stand out and sets you up for favors, raises, promotions and the like.

So, if you are a leader, don’t complain about the pain, it goes with the territory and if you are a team member, be that one that makes your leader’s life easier and yours will be as well.

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