003 – Colin Myers – Leading Under Pressure

Executive Director Critical Care

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Are there any teams that work under greater pressure, for higher stakes, than an emergency department at a hospital?

Have you ever been part of a team that thinks the work it does is too important to ‘waste’ time thinking about the way its members interact – a team that thinks its technical skills and knowledge gives it immunity from having to think about human interaction? If you have, this episode is for you.

Colin Myers carries the ultimate responsibility for hundreds of emergency patients everyday. He is the Executive Director of Critical Care across four hospitals. He is a specialist doctor with decades of experience.

He is a man enormously aware of himself as a leader and the power of effective teamwork.

In Colin’s world healthy leadership and team dynamics save lives – and he gives us an amazing insight into that world right here, in the third episode of the Team Guru Podcast.


Lessons Learned

Here’s what I took out of the episode:

  • No level of technical knowledge and skill provides immunity from actively working on team dynamics and leadership
  • Emergency teams aim to run like a well-oiled machine. They use the Formula 1 pit crew analogy to guide their expectations
  • Some personalities are suited to high pressure, fast-paced jobs. Some personalities are not
  • Teams operating in difficult, adverse conditions automatically start to bond because they need each other
  • Roles are clearly defined for every member of an emergency team
  • When under enormous pressure, competent practitioners dive into their technical world of knowledge in the moment and then deal with the emotional aspects once it’s all over
  • When operating in a high stakes environment it’s essential to have trust in those you work with – but you must be selective about those that you do trust
  • Technical skills can be taught – but authentic empathy and interpersonal skills are inherent and much more difficult to teach
  • You have to give team members time to develop into a role – even when they come into the team with a high level of technical knowledge
  • Cold, autocratic leadership styles isolate subordinates, making learning and development difficult and fostering a culture in which mistakes can be made
  • There are times when even a highly consultative leader can become directive – working under pressure where the stakes are high
  • Emergency physicians make around 100 critical decisions per hour – they are also fabulous multi-taskers and experts at prioritising
  • Problems and mistakes are digested and picked apart for the lessons that can be learned – but no one is blamed. Review procedures are conducted solely for the purpose of improving practices


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