Difficult doctors: Coaching the alpha (Proceedings) - Veterinary Healthcare


Difficult doctors: Coaching the alpha (Proceedings)


Why This? Why Now?

• Most common complaint of managers in veterinary medicine

• People join practices and leave doctors/owners/boss

• We live in an era of consolidation and collaboration if we are to be successful providers

• Must address the "schism" between owners and doctors and front line employees

The Alpha Doctor

• Highly Intelligent

• Confident

• Not happy unless they are calling the shots

• Use "Toxic Tactics" to get their way

• Note to women (rarely will you exhibit all of the characteristics of the alpha doctor), but you can have many

• It's about being socialized to be good collaborators and compromising

• Reach the "top" because they are natural leaders

• Comfortable with responsibility and being the "final word"

• Get stressed when they DON'T have tough decisions to make

• They get such a charge out of being in control that they willingly take on more responsibilities than any normal human being would

• Genius and Madness are hard to separate

• Their greatest strengths are also their greatest weaknesses

• Independent and Action Oriented

• Take for granted extraordinarily high performance

• Expect the same in others

• "Impressive, but I wouldn't want to work for them!"

• Think extraordinarily fast, hard to keep up with

• Prevents them from listening to others (especially those who do not alpha speak)

• Impatience causes them to miss subtle but important details (lack empathy)

• They have opinions about EVERYTHING

• Rarely if ever admit to being wrong or incomplete

• Early in life they KNOW they are smarter than most people and learn very early to circumvent "rules"

• "The rules don't apply to me."

• As adults they believe that their insights are so unique that they put complete faith in their instincts

Alpha Males

• Because their intuitions are often right, they feel justified in focusing on the flaws in other people's ideas or arguments. The results:

• Co-workers are intimidated which makes learning difficult

• The more pressure the "alpha" feels the more he tends to shift his leadership style from constructive and challenging to intimidating or abusive

• Organizations become dysfunctional because people avoid dealing with the alpha male, work around him, or simply pay him lip service

• Unemotional and analytical in their cognitive style

• Eager to learn about business "things" but have little or no natural curiosity about people or feelings

• They rely on exhaustive data to make business decisions, but often make snap decisions about other people which they hold onto tenaciously

• They believe that paying attention to feelings (others or their own) detracts from getting the work done, making them surprisingly oblivious to the effect they have on others


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