When I was a resident heading a team of two interns and one medical student responsible for all the patients in the hospital, there were days when things went crazy.
When that happens, you have to prioritize. At the same time, you have to deal with recently graduated medical students who do not have as much self-esteem as doctors.
Days like that were when my leadership skills really shined.
When things really got bad and the team felt overwhelmed, I asked them to meet. I then started the meeting by doing nothing related to medicine for three to five minutes, just relaxing and reassembling. During that time, I would talk about a new movie or TV show. I would even crack a joke and asked them to do the same. Sometimes we would even listen to a song. Then I would discuss the plan to effectively finish the night.
I could have had them just do the work, and it would have been done. But, then I would have an exhausted, frustrated team that definitely was not looking forward to the next call. With a few periods of relaxation, my team felt that I cared about their well-being and that their leader was there for them. In turn, they rewarded me by providing great care with a smile. I wanted them to feel comfortable working, and they made me look good as a team leader.
A few years ago, we hired a woman to take care of scheduling follow-up appointments and procedures for patients.
But she did much, much more. She always came up with ideas to make procedures better and smoother; she always made the patient feel they were the center of her work.
So we promoted her to an office manager, and she did even better. She could have run the office and we would have been satisfied, but she did more. She identified potential in our employees and gave them tasks to prove it, and if they were up to it, they would get promoted. She would recognize the weak and make them stronger, and if not, try to find their niche. Now she runs a region that covers more than 10 offices, but it is as though she still is running one office, nobody is left behind.
She was an example of a true leader.
A leader is not just a manager. A leader is a friend of his team members; a leader is someone who makes you feel that you’re an important part of the team, that you matter and that your problems are important. You are here to do a job, but your well-being and improvement as an employee are as important as performing the job. When you do well, you are rewarded; when you don’t, you are taught so you can do better next time. When you have a problem, you feel confident that the leader has your back.
A leader may not be the smartest or most qualified, but he or she is the one who can provoke hard work from people while still making them feel they can give more and that the glory is theirs.
While a manager can direct you to what is needed, a leader inspires you to do more. A leader does not only improve on his tasks but also improves his team members by challenging them and helping them get the necessary training and education. A leader can change his team members’ lives and can turn them into leaders, too.
In short, a manager helps you win one Super Bowl, a leader helps you win four.