If you remember when you were a leadership newbie (or if you are), did you have a mentor to show you the ropes, or were you “baptized by fire”? I was recently discussing the challenges I faced as a new ASC leader with a colleague.  As we compared notes, we recognized that the job could have been easier with some more mentoring and guidance.  We began brainstorming as to what we would tell ourselves in the beginning of our professional journey, and came up with these 10 simple tips that could be useful to either a “newbie” or a reminder to all of us. Here is the list we created:

  • Keep it simple.  The big picture can be a bit overwhelming, but breaking up the responsibilities into simple tasks is key.

  • Sometimes the right thing is not always the easiest thing.  Be brave and stand up for what is right.

  • Pick your battles.  You can’t win them all.

  • Be willing to compromise when it’s appropriate.

  • Always have a plan “b”.  (and maybe a plan “c”).  This is especially important with staffing.

  • Never forget that your most important role is patient advocate, and that patient safety is always your number 1 priority.

  • Organization is key.  Figure out what works for you, and stick to it.

  • Take time to re-charge and not burn out.  You are no good to anyone if you don’t, and you’ll be the last to notice.

  • Delegate.  Control tends to come with responsibility, but you need to share the load.

  • If you are a nurse, you learned this in school, and it never stops ringing true:  If it’s not charted, it’s not done.  Write it down.  You won’t remember everything.

When I hear of how difficult it is to find good surgical leaders, as well as the burnout and turnover that the stress and challenges of our roles bring, I feel that those of us who are seasoned need to do a better job as mentors.

I’d love to hear what you would tell your “newer” self.  Please comment and let me know what lesson you learned that you would share or could benefit someone you would mentor.  Thanks!

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