This post is by Marc Harrison, Chief of International Business Development at Cleveland Clinic
When interviewing prospective job candidates, I look for evidence of ego or selfishness – traits that can sabotage any productive working environment.
Thus, one of my typical interview requests is that they describe a success they’ve experienced in the workplace. And I listen carefully to see what predominates in their responses – and I am always pleased to hear the word “We.”
This ability to work together for a common good is tested, however, when difficulties arise.
Whether large or small, their sudden onset can upset the balance of the day-to-day routine, and lead to larger problems if ignored or ill-managed.
We’ve Got This
Surprises used to anguish me.
I can recall times in my career when a sudden occurrence – such as the resignation of a key performer to pursue another employment opportunity – would prompt me to worry that we couldn’t possibly continue to flourish. Much of that angst I attribute to my competitive nature; a desire to always be the best.
Of course, I was wrong to worry. When you painstakingly build a team of talented individuals, train them well and empower them to lead, they will respond tremendously when surprises occur. They will rally, step up to assume new duties, and figuratively join hands to solve the problem or maximize the opportunity.
I’ve seen it happen often. It’s inspiring and satisfying. Because, as a leader, there is no prouder moment than when your colleagues join forces to right a wrong or realize their potential.
Qualities in Strong Team Players
Besides my aforementioned “I” question, there are other factors I look for in Cleveland Clinic prospects that are a good indicator of their affinity for teamwork. Each of these presumes, by the way, that the candidate is otherwise qualified for the job in terms of educational background, as well as job-specific skills and experiences.
- Resiliency – When faced with roadblocks, the resilient find ways to sidestep them and continue the journey. Giving up is not an option when a crisis emerges. And that often means creative approaches emerge just when you need them.
- Positivity — Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean being Pollyannaish. But thinking clearly while encouraging fellow colleagues in the face of a storm can provide the necessary support to get those who are struggling to overcome doubts.
- Relentlessness – Individuals who don’t give up are particularly useful when surprises emerge. They don’t wring their hands; they don’t complain. No “woe is me.” They simply soldier on until the task is complete.
A great example of relentlessness occurred as we were ramping up staffing for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Dozens and dozens of families – of doctors, administrators and other staffers – were scheduled to move to the UAE. But the schools – while otherwise prepared for 350 new students – didn’t have enough desks to accommodate them.
Just weeks and days away from their arrival, a team of inspired souls sprang to the task. Led by Tomislav Mihaljevic – who has since succeeded me as CEO there – they left no stone unturned. They procured desks from overstocked schools and uncovered novel approaches to ordering in bulk from a variety of suppliers.
Every child had a desk when school started. And the transition to a new school and a new country was just a bit smoother. While Tom has faced much bigger surprises, the work he and his single-minded team performed during that mini-crisis is indicative of collaboration’s power.
Surprises are usually unwanted in the business world – and certainly in healthcare. Crises can test the mettle of even the most prepared individuals.
But they are usually conquered if strong, collaborative, passionate and diligent teams are in place to quickly and creatively address them.
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