September 2017 Volume LII Number 5


AAPD Resident’s Corner: Resident Leadership Via the 5 Second Rule

September 2017 Volume LII Number 5

Chrissy Hammer, D.M.D., M.A.

5-4-3-2-1-Go! If you were lucky enough to attend the keynote ad- dress at this year’s AAPD Annual Session, you know that Mel Robbins has used this simple tool as a springboard to help people around the world self-motivate and self-initiate. Sitting in the audience, amazed by the impact that her application of the interplay between neurology and behavior has had on the entire world, I began to wonder if and how I can relate the 5 Second Rule to my current leadership role as an existing chief resident. It became clear almost immediately that 5-4-3-2-1-Go! may be best applied by future chief residents looking for a way to stimulate long term change. While Robbins stressed using the tool from a first-person perspective (i.e. “I will get out of bed,” or “I will get to the gym”), the potential is limitless, from a leadership perspective, when it is used in third-person form (i.e. “We will make this a supportive work environment”).

Understanding the implications of “We” language vs “I” language can be a major differentiator between being the best and worst chief resident. Or, to look 10 years ahead, the best and worst boss. By find- ing a motivational strategy and learning to communicate in parallel— something I have personally spent the last two years trying to do—we open the door to two key concepts at the foundation of leading every team: an understanding of the impact of translational leadership, and the value of growing others emotional intelligence. Chief residents are middle managers. By using “We” language to manage up, down and out (yes, out), it is possible to understand the leadership structure so well that you can use it to focus on a greater goal—growing and sup- porting your people.

You may be thinking that I’ve made this too simple, leaving out important buzzwords like accountability, buy-in, resilience and trust, which are all critical in maintaining the strength of a team. But for our purposes, those concepts are second-tier, the next step is trans- actional instead of transformational. So for all of you rising chief residents, honored, burdened and challenged by the new role you face, take a moment to think about how the 5 Second Rule can be applied to your team, and not just to yourself. Remember that when it comes to creating a movement, building motivation, or starting an initiative, the first follower is actually more important than the leader. Value your team and make this year about “We.”

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