Leadership 1: The Core Skills of Leaders

New Article Series:
Being the Lead in Your Physical Therapy Business

Physical therapy business owners frequently ask me questions about their team members’ performance and productivity.  The issues they present are typically a cause of significant concern and frustration.  Practice owners know if these issues are not addressed, they will affect their business success and bottom line.

In reality, many of these questions, concerns and frustrations are related to leadership. You may not have realized that when you decided on practice ownership, you also put yourself into a professional leadership role.

I want to help you acquire the core skills you need to lead effectively.  I will do this in a series of articles which will teach you the leadership functions and key actions you can take to lead successfully. Create a leadership manual from this series that will be a resource for you time and again.

In this series of articles, we’ll cover:

  1. Establishing Performance Expectations
  2. Giving Constructive Feedback
  3. Taking Corrective Action
  4. Recognizing Positive Results
  5. Dealing with Emotional Behavior
  6. Resolving Team Conflicts

CoreSkills1In this first article, we’ll start with the core skills required of leaders. As the leader of your team you need core interpersonal skills to be good at working with people, skills which are central to your effectiveness.

Leadership Functions

5 basic principles are the foundation for all of your leadership activities with people:

  • Build and maintain a positive work climate
  • Deal with negative situations as constructively as possible
  • Stay balanced and objective in your approach to people and problems
  • Remove interpersonal barriers to understanding and cooperation
  • Keep things moving toward better performance
  • Provide a positive example of how to work effectively

Five Key Actions You Can Use Everyday

You’ve see people at work who are involved, constructive and positive. You’ve also seen people who do just enough to get by. Some people take pride in their organization, while others never seem to have a good word to say. Some are eager to be involved, others just tune out.

Many factors come into play here but often the way you, their leader, deals with people is equally important. People respond according to your actions toward them.

Five Key Actions to Use to Have a Powerful Impact on Others:

1. Focus on the situation, issue or behavior, not the person

Why?

Part of your job is to investigate situations and let people know when things need improving.

How Do You Do This?

Describe factually what you have observed. Be specific and avoid generalizations. This works well with positive situations as well as with difficult or negative ones.

2. Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others

Why?

This is critical to getting good results and consistently meeting and exceeding expectations.

How Do You Do This?

Let the person know how their contributions are valued. Ask for their point of view. Look for ways to recognize those things a person does well or potentially could do well.

3. Maintain constructive relationships with your employees, peers and managers

Why?

Poor relationships make your job more difficult; sometimes they make your goals virtually impossible to accomplish.

How Do You Do This?

Maintaining constructive relationships basically means treating people as you’d like to be treated. Deal with today’s problems in a way that will make working with that person in the future easier, not harder.

4. Take initiative to make things better

Why?

Coming up with ideas for improving things is at the heart of a leader’s job. Initiative can mean taking action to prevent or head off a potential problem, or it can mean taking action to turn something that is just okay into something great.

How Do You Do This?

As you work, watch for ways to improve products, services, processes, coordination or communications. Take action whenever you see an opportunity for improvement or a potential problem. When you do this you are signaling to those around you that you value positive action and contribution.

5. Lead by example

Why?

Your actions have enormous influence on people — even the so called little things you do. Often it is the little things that people watch most closely because that’s how you communicate what’s really important to you.

How Do You Do This?

Be clear about the one, two or three issues that are top priorities to you and your practice. These top priorities may be quality service, output, schedules, teamwork, respect for others, innovation, or cost control. Continually look for ways to demonstrate your commitment to these few true top priorities.

Effective leadership is neither accidental nor magical. It begins with the deliberate, consistent practice of these five basic principles. By using these basic principles you create the climate and set the direction for optimum performance by others who work with you and for you.

Today’s article is meant to serve as a primer for you — a primer for you to take action and learn about leadership. Watch for the next upcoming articles. Remember to create a resource manual on leadership with this series of articles.

I am always available to assist you in this learning and the application of it to your specific situation. Simply email me to get this help at coach@erikatrimble.com

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