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This Boy May Not Have Been Born...

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 ...Due to Conflict in the OR


Midwife - “When did this happen?!”

Amy, my wife - “I don't know!”

Me, Al - “What's going on?! Oh my God!”

Midwife - “Okay Amy, the baby has turned, we are going into the OR for an emergency C-Section. The nurse will prepare both of you while I call the doctors and prepare for the procedure.”

Amy - “Al, I am scared.” She squeezed my hand as our baby Ian was sideways in her stomach. We could see his head on one side and his feet on the other. It was a complete breech.

12 minutes later at the OR.

Doctor #1 - “The father can't come in. You gave us the wrong code, we should have been starting minutes ago.”

Midwife - “I'm sorry, but the plan is to have the father with us.”

Doctor #1 and Midwife continue to argue with an escalating tone while Amy and I wait, confused and extremely scared. We couldn't believe that medical professionals would be arguing during a moment like this!

Surgeon - (screams to Doctor #1) “You missed the first meeting! The father is coming in and that's it!”

So, what does a shouting match in the OR minutes before an emergency C-Section for my second child have to do with team building? (Tweet This)


I am happy to write that everything went perfectly after the surgeon took control of the situation.  Our son Ian was born without any issues or complications.  However, did my wife and I really need to be exposed to that situation during such a stressful time?

Was there a need to introduce this type of stress to a team that was about to perform surgery under critical conditions?

Absolutely NOT.

During the pregnancy, we had developed a close relationship with the midwife and the surgeon.  While the surgeon had many years of experience and his office was decorated with multiple medical degrees and certifications, he always treated the midwife as an equal. He respected her and valued her input immensely. 

The impression we got from Doctor #1 was the complete opposite as the surgeon.  He was determined to correct the midwife with an attitude of superiority.  Apparently, it was more important for him to correct the midwife and make his point than it was to serve the needs of his patients.

Are you starting to see why team building has everything to do with this story?

ANY type of team building that would have prevented this situation from happening would have been well worth the investment.

The conflict between Doctor #1 and our midwife is an example of a common issue that I have experienced in my career and as a leadership consultant.  Many of us can be self-deceived in thinking that we are superior to others and this entitles us to correct,  disrespect, ignore, or exclude others.   (Tweet This)

Doctor #1, like myself and other people that fall into the superiority trap, are not necessarily bad people. We just need help in finding our way out of this self-deception and understand the damage we may cause. This is why team building is so important in developing trusting and efficient work place cultures.

This is just one of the many areas in which team building can help!

Whether I am part of an organization that is considering investing on a team building session, or being approached by an organization to facilitate a session, there are always some vocal opponents. Many of these vocal opponents express that team building sessions are a waste of time. 

I actually agree with many of these vocal opponents: team building can be a waste of time if the session:

~ is done as a one time event, without follow-up activities and ways to incorporate the insights into the workplace culture.

~ does not provide tools and structures that the team can use later in the workplace

~ does not include management, executives or colleagues with more education/experience, like Doctor #1.

However, team building can be a successful and effective investment if the session does the following:

~ provides a structure the managers can implement in the workplace that helps the team to consistently understand expectations, communicate proactively, and execute towards a shared vision. 

~ includes time and facilitation to practice tools that help the team identify communication issues, develop a shared vision and work together to improve their performance.

~ includes upper management and others in positions of authority in the process.

~ is FUN! Having fun is critically important during the session AND back at work.  Team building sessions should provide ideas on how all staff members can bring fun to the workplace.   (Tweet This)

Earlier this year, Jim Volkhausen, Assistant Director of the Cornell Teaching and Leadership Center joined me on my podcast, Leading Beyond the Status Quo, to explore the importance of team building and how to ensure the investment results in a transformative experience for the team. 

To learn about about designing transformative team building sessions, listen to this edition of Leading Beyond the Status Quo.  (Tweet This)

To subscribe to Leading Beyond The Status Quo on iTunes, go to:

Contact us to find out more about how GIVE can help you.

It's your turn.

Do you feel the actions of Doctor #1 were justified?

Have you had similar experiences?

How can team building help businesses provide better service?

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Al Gonzalez

Founding Partner - GIVE Leadership Institute, LLC


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