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Develop a Coaching Culture

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“I’m a leader in my surgical specialty. People expect me to be forceful.”

I asked, “What do you look for in a good leader?”

“I want someone who listens to me, who looks at all options without stuffing his solution down my throat. I want someone who is calm, thoughtful and . . .”

After a long pause, I heard, “Oh.”

We are taught to take charge

In medical school, we are taught to take charge, consider data and then make decisions—a reductive way of thinking. We consider diagnostic possibilities, eliminate those that aren’t relevant and then decide on the lab tests and imaging studies we need to narrow the field.

We are taught to give orders.

In my first large management job, at the US Department of Health and Human Services as a senior executive working with Dr. Donna Shalala, I gave an order to my staff.

Nothing happened.

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