The role of the team leader

The role of the team leader is an important one and one that shouldn't be undertaken lightly. Before any trauma reception begins the team leader role needs to be allocated and explicitly stated. The position does not need to be taken by the person with the most experience, but it should be someone with knowledge of the treatment of critically ill trauma patients. They also need to have the communication skills needed to fulfil the role.

Team leadership is the ability to direct and coordinate the activities for all team members, asses team performance, work with the team to develop collective knowledge, skills and abilities, motivate team members, plan and organize as well as establish a positive working atmosphere7.

A good team leader will support and encourage the team, seek advice from other expert members of the team and allow their instructions to be questioned. Members of the team must respect their authority and be prepared to carry out the instructions of the leader. The team leader cannot always be correct, but following discussion the leader must make the final8.

Role allocation and identification is important
Image used with permission from The Royal Melbourne Hospital

Strong leadership will provide the members of the team with a sense that the best possible outcome was achieved, even if the patient does not recover. In contrast, poor leadership may induce frustration and anxiety, having a negative impact on the team and its future performance.

Monitoring simultaneous activities is hard, and as team leader it is necessary to have a dynamic mental model of what is occurring with each element of the resuscitation, what rate the assessment and management of each component (A/B/C/D) is proceeding at, and how the dynamic changes in each component are affecting the other elements of the resuscitation7.

What is situational awareness?

Situational awareness means being aware of what is going on around you, being able to see the bigger picture and reacting appropriately to it without getting caught up in the minutiae. In managing a complex trauma it is easy to become fixated on one problem; being focused on a single part of the situation means that other critical elements may deteriorate around you without recognition7. In a practical sense, situational awareness is paying attention to what is going on around you. The resuscitation room or trauma bay can be a loud and distracting environment; the team leader has to be able to manage this while directing the team in an efficient way.

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