3. Supporting Team Leaders

The role of a leader can be perceived very differently depending on the country and culture you’re working in. In this lesson, we will provide an overview of what is expected from an effective team leader in Canada. In the video below, notice how these qualities can improve team dynamics, especially when conflict occurs. Think about your role as a team member and how you can support the team leader. 

Teamwork and Conflict

(To  read along click here.)

Team Leadership

Effective teamwork is an important part of promoting a healthy workplace and preventing adverse events. Patients expect, even assume, that their healthcare teams are functioning well. But that’s not always the case.

Managing a healthcare team successfully can be challenging. It is helpful when team members are supportive and collaborative. Here are some of the expectations of effective team leaders in the Canadian context. Effective team leaders:

  • Embrace the leadership role, asking for help when they need it
  • Constantly monitor the team, setting priorities and making decisions as they go
  • Make the most of all resources in order to maximize team performance
  • Help resolve team conflicts
  • Delegate tasks so that the workload is balanced for everyone
  • Check in regularly with team members on an individual basis
  • Empower their team members to speak freely and ask questions
  • Arrange training opportunities
  • Promote a positive group culture

Positive Work Environment

Providing a positive work environment is one way that an organization and its leaders can reduce conflict between coworkers. According to the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), a positive work environment has1:

  • Leaders who have a clear sense of direction, who are accessible to employees and foster a sense of friendliness and trust
  • A work culture that promotes respect, celebrates successes, and deals with mistakes as opportunities to learn
  • Team members who behave ethically
  • Employees who feel appreciated, and are given opportunities to grow professionally
  • An understanding that employees have commitments outside of work that need to be respected

Resolving Conflict

Conflict resolution is frequently one of the most challenging aspects of teamwork. Here are some of the ways team members can help manage conflicts:

  • Listen with empathy and respect
  • Allow others to express their concerns
  • Look deeper, beyond what is being said, to understand the real meaning
  • Be self-reflective and accountable—acknowledge if you are at fault
  • Express emotions in a positive way—to encourage understanding and resolution
  • Prioritize—try to separate what is important and what gets in the way of understanding
  • Learn from difficult behaviours—use what you have observed and see how outcomes may have been affected
  • Negotiate and collaborate to resolve the issue


Self-Reflection: Supporting Team Leaders


1Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2012). Managing and Mitigating Conflict in Health-care Teams. Toronto, Canada: Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.


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