Play Nice or Go Away

Joe Montana – one of the best ever “high performers” in the AFL

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree

The internship program at the Soor Center is my baby. I’m passionate about skills development and about mentoring newbie therapists as they gain experience in their professional lives. I care about ethics,  providing “tools” for the toolbox of new therapists, and I care about the clients. A lot.

When a newly-minted graduate applies to the Soor Center for a spot in our program, we (that would be the royal ‘we’) talk about the Soor Center’s ethos and what it’s like to work here. I tell the hopeful newbie, “There are really only two things that will cause me to dismiss you from our program. One is a gross breach of ethics. The other is if you don’t fit with our team. This is a great place to gain experience, and if you are unable or unwilling to work amiably with the professionals here, I will walk you to elevator, and wish you well.” I’m grateful that I’ve had to dismiss only two interns from the program in five years.

Today’s post by Robert Sher, The Worst Thing Any Leader Can Do To High Performers, resonated with me. Not that I know anything about leading a high-powered football team, but rather that it is the leader’s job to deal with problems in a team, and that this must be done in a way that fosters team building, not diva/drama behaviour.

No matter how good a football player may be, he cannot possibly win a game by himself. No matter how good a therapist may be, s/he cannot possibly be a successful, healthy, ethical clinician without being part of a team (no matter how loosely that is defined). A football player will simply fail – and look ridiculous doing it – if he attempted to play a game on his own.

A therapist/counsellor/clinician/psychologist who will not “play nice” and choose to be part of a larger supporting team, is dangerous. Finding a team happens in a variety of ways, and sometimes a therapist needs to get creative about building a team, but that’s for another post. What matters is that psychology clinicians recognise the need to be part of a team, and in one way or another, make that happen.

Back to leading – I’d like to think that all the interns we’ve had through our program in the past five years are/will be ‘high performers.’ They have certainly been stellar in completing their internships at the Soor Center. (Totally impressed with the young Kuwaiti interns we’ve had. They’re going to change the face of psychology in Kuwait, I know it). It has been my job to make the team work, and as Mr. Montana points out, that only happens when a leader is willing to do what needs to be done to foster a team, not just an individual – no matter how “high performing” that individual may be.

More reading here, here, and here.

Talk amongst yourselves...

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