Inspired Leadership in the Operating Room

Inspired Leadership: Stepping Forward, Not Back, in Times of Crisis

Inspired Leadership:

Stepping Forward, Not Back, in Times of Crisis

When crises happen – whether natural disaster, terrorist attack, or accident – there is a subset of people that are pulled to action. They immediately respond to offer assistance, to activate their expertise and ultimately, to make a difference- inspired leadership in action.

Shea Gregg, chief of trauma surgery at Bridgeport Hospital and Chairman of the CT State Trauma Committee, is one of those people, as are his colleagues and team.

In fact, during our inspiration interview with Dr. Gregg, we learned that the greater the crisis and the bigger the challenge, the more inspired he feels to take action.

Shea Gregg is one of several leaders we interviewed as research for our book, Inspire: Generate Extraordinary Results Through Sustainable Inspiration. Through these interviews and our research, we have so far discovered fifteen consistent “engines of inspiration” – that is, situations, circumstances, or examples of people who reliably spark feelings of inspiration. We were surprised to learn that an engine of inspiration for many leaders, including Shea Gregg, is “overcoming obstacles or constraints imposed by others.” For Dr. Gregg, the greater the challenge he faces either inside or outside of the operating room, the greater his feelings of inspiration and motivation to take action.

Inspired Leadership: Teaming That Saves Lives

During the interview, he described how a patient trauma situation or crisis mobilizes all members of the ER team to be at their absolute best on behalf of the patient: “the sicker the patient, the bigger the team, the more things that need to be done.” Part of what inspires Dr. Gregg is the opportunity these crises present to bring his team together, to empower them to take action and do their best work, and to “lead the team to save that life.” Although it may sound counter-intuitive, seeing that patient bleeding or in crisis inspires the team to take action because “you have the opportunity to stop it and save a life.”

In fact, prior to speaking with Dr. Gregg, I primarily thought of surgeons as being strong take-charge leaders who commanded their operating rooms – perhaps this is how they are portrayed on television. Dr. Gregg is an example of this, but yet so much more. As a leader for his operating team, Dr. Gregg believes that saying the least often yields the best results. In his words, “when a trauma room is silent with only a few, vital communications being conveyed, then the most efficient, focused care is usually being administered. That usually means chaos is absent and the best care is being administered.” In these moments of calm and clarity, all members of the team work together and use their skills and experience to make a positive difference for an individual and the broader community.

Inspired Leadership: Bringing Compassion & Curiosity to the Operating Room

This illustrates another common engine of inspiration: “using your unique strengths for positive impact.”

Over the years, Dr. Gregg has deliberately honed a style of leadership characterized by curiosity, listening, compassion, and asking great questions – which allows the members of his team to flourish, bring their best, and learn from one another. Dr. Gregg is determined to make a difference, and as a result of his leadership, he is doing just that.

“Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.” Albert Einstein


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