Published March 1, 2022
Director of Oncological Imaging; Abdominal Radiology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Kathryn J. Fowler
Associate Professor of Radiology
University of California San Diego Health
Most of us spend more than half of our waking hours at work, where we interact with peers, report to supervisors, and, potentially, manage teams. While work is gratifying to many of us in this specialty, only a minority of radiologists report being happy. In a Medscape survey conducted in 2017, only 25% of radiologists claimed to be happy at work, 47% reported that they experienced burnout and/or depression, and 50% of respondents attributed long work hours as the cause for their burnout. Unhappiness and burnout can lead to downstream impacts. Those experiencing burnout and/or depression report higher levels of exasperation with their team members, as well as decreased levels of engagement. This can lead to a dysfunctional team environment, which, in turn, can further negatively impact professional satisfaction in the workplace.
In contradistinction, being a respected and productive member of a high-functioning team contributes substantially to one’s happiness at work. However, few of us are lucky enough to join a team that naturally functions with reliable precision and success. Creating and maintaining a highly functional team may even seem as elusive as magic.
Magic may not be needed, but skills and effort are required to create a cohesive team. By working to improve social and emotional intelligence, and maintaining a culture of clear and open communication, one can cultivate a hopeful, supportive environment. This, in turn, fosters a growth mindset that allows us to learn from, and not fear or create conflict with, opinions that diverge from our own. Ultimately, with appropriate skills and insights, we can manage adversity and succeed.
One of our favorite examples of managing adversity can be seen in the popular show, Ted Lasso. Ted, an American football coach, is recruited to England to coach a professional soccer team, AFC Richmond. In addition to his ignorance of the game of “proper football,” he faces severe adversity from the team and its inherent dysfunction, as well as deliberate sabotage, in some instances, from superiors. Yet, in the end, Ted triumphs against all odds. Over the course of two seasons, Ted builds a team we all dream of having: driven, united, inclusive, diverse, cohesive, and effective. Ted’s team is one where each member’s unique perspective and talents are valued, where each member is given an opportunity to become the best version of themselves, where each member is supported and lifted up. While such a team sounds too good to exist outside of a TV show, Ted’s off-the-chart emotional intelligence skills, his kindness, his mindset of hope and optimism—if implemented in real life—can bring the environment of our own teams closer to that of AFC Richmond.
The concept of emotional intelligence (i.e., emotional quotient or EQ) is a relatively recent one, yet it is crucial to personal and professional success. Emotional intelligence constitutes several key soft skills (i.e., skills related to one’s function in a team) for understanding and managing emotions of self and others. By recognizing emotions, both positive and negative, and understanding their meaning, you can interpret them as data to help inform actions and ensure your intentions translate appropriately to others. In addition to emotional awareness, empathy and social skills contribute to high EQ.
You may be thinking, “I’m just not good at this stuff!” In response, we will quote Ted Lasso: “Well, when I was a baby, I wasn’t good at walking and talking, but I stuck with it, and look at me now.” Soft skills are crucial to professional success, yet are rarely formally taught. Our 2022 ARRS Annual Meeting Sunday Session, “Sharpening Teamwork and Communication Skills,” will provide a framework to start honing the many soft skills that are important to the success of both individuals and teams, including:
- High-yield understanding of the intricacies of team dynamics
- Leveraging the psychology of interpersonal communication
- Pro tips for sending and receiving effective emails
- Acknowledging the interdependence of communication styles and leadership abilities
- Expert strategies for combating imposter syndrome
- Practical advantages of inclusivity
Following this featured Sunday Session, participants will have a solid understanding of the broad range of soft skills needed to facilitate effective leadership and membership in a team environment. To quote our favorite coach, “Success is not about the wins and losses; it is about [players] becoming the best versions of themselves, on and off the field.”
The opinions expressed in InPractice magazine are those of the author(s); they do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or position of the editors, reviewers, or publisher.