Do you know how some days just take on a vibe of their own? Like the days when everyone is working together as a team, smiles are all around, the cases are all going great and the patients all happy and kind?  Or those other days when everyone just seems to be walking like they poured molasses in their surgical clogs and had a handful of sour worm gummies?  It’s all about the tone of the day.  Sometimes the vibe just isn’t right.

As leaders, we own what we do, so those good vibe days, we glean satisfaction. We feel like we are being an effective leader and the team is awesome and we’ve got this. On those sour gummy worm days, the opposite occurs, and, if you’re like me, you worry that the tone of the day could turn into a negative culture shift.  I was having a couple of weeks like that not too long ago.  Too many molasses and sour gummy worm days, and not enough positive vibe days.  I remember blaming the mid-winter blues, and the more than comfortable amount of changes that had recently taken place.  I knew I needed to address it before there was a more permanent culture shift.  I struggled with how.

After a lot of contemplation, I recalled a time, as a very green Emergency Room nurse, that a patient had been brought it via law enforcement, being carried, stomach facing the floor, restrained “hog tie” style by five much larger male officers, taken to the trauma room stretcher, and my charge nurse telling me he was my patient. (yay! I thought sarcastically). My new patient was yelling, screaming profanities, and spitting.  I took a deep breath, and  treated the situation as I would a child’s temper tantrum.  I began whispering in his ear, introducing myself and what I needed to do.  He stopped all the screaming and spitting to listen.  Within only a couple of minutes, I had de-escalated the situation, and the officers were able to remove the cuffs.  They thought I had mad skills.  The truth is, I just changed the tone of the situation.

It made me remember that, as a leader, I could impact the current tone of the center.  As part of our weekly staff meeting, I addressed it.  I acknowledged the changes that had been happening, recognizing the effect it had on us all, and thanked everyone for how well they were coping.  I talked about how grateful I was for what they did every day, and reminded them of what that was. I talked about how easy it was to forget the impact we made on our patients each day by the care we provided.

I saw a noticeable change right away.  I recognized that even though the sour worm gummy molasses days may have been caused by winter weather and a lot of changes,  I had the responsibility to acknowledge it, and the difference was palpable.

Leadership isn’t always easy, but we do have the power, and the “mad skills” to impact the culture we lead.


6 Replies to “Sometimes we can be a little tone deaf…”

  1. Thank you for this article. At my place of employment I too recently saw “sour gummy faces”. What helped tremendously is our boss validated our feelings by talking about those negative days in a meeting and making us feel like she “gets it” and cares about the environment we work in. It made a huge impact on overall attitudes.

  2. Nice to know that there are others out there that are struggling with “stuff”. Just remember that the “stuff” is temporary and may only affect you as you allow it. Remember and embrace the more permanent things in your life: you family, friends, health and realize that it is your choice to see the opportunities in life or to dwell on the bumps in the road.

  3. Too many times leaders do not take the time to thank staff for all they do, but focus on what we need to do better! Well written. I want to come and work for you!

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