Fostering Communication and Collaboration to Achieve Common Goals

Fostering Communication and Collaboration to Achieve Common Goals

Jason Leyendecker, Au.D.

Former presidential speech writer, James Humes once wrote, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” I want to thank you for electing me as your president. It is an honor to serve the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) community. It has been 4 months now into my journey as president and it is proving to be a busy year.

It’s ironic that our profession is a doctoring profession dedicated to improving communication, yet this is probably the area of improvement our profession needs the most. I’m not talking press releases and the valuable communications to our members; I’m talking one-on-one conversations to really understand what one person is thinking and saying. In a world where we consume so much information through social media, it is easy to have a one-sided view of any problem we see in our profession. We become very passionate about that view and will push hard to see that view go forward. All while putting opposing views in a box claiming they are not going to be effective for moving our needle.

I’m reminded about a book from one of my favorite authors, Patrick Lencioni who discusses teamwork in Five Dysfunctions of a Team. For a profession to move forward we need to continue to work on our teamwork skills. The five dysfunctions include, lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. As an organization, we must create trust with our colleagues in other organizations, our manufacturing partners and our neighboring professions. The more we communicate with these organizations and build trust we can start working on things together. Conflict seems to be easy to create in our profession. Just look at any of the audiology Facebook pages. That said, constructive conflict leads to growth. It leads to being able to be open, honest, and respectful with people while discussing difficult challenges.

Commitment doesn’t seem to be a problem within our organization; however, we could always use more committed people to ease the burden of those who have been helping the most within our organization. We can always use more committed audiologists ready to help when things get tough. Avoidance of accountability comes from not trusting each other and believing in the common objectives. If we do not create goals to commit to, we will always fall to the level of our weakest link. If we do not have accountability, we will not have the change necessary to move the needle. Lastly, our results must be measurable. ADA has a fantastic group of motivated individuals who want to move the needle, but we aren’t always sure what that looks like. As practice owners we all have our key performance indicators that we track within our clinics, so we know we are effective in all aspects of our business. Why not create measurable indicators for change within our profession? Setting these measurable goals, we can ensure everyone knows what the finish line looks like and we can all take ownership of that!

It is important to understand that ADA does these things very well, however, there is always room for improvement. Our board has been working hard to move the needle and will continue using these team-based approaches throughout this year. We also have been working together with our colleagues at the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) to move our legislation forward! Our manufacturing partners hosted the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) conference in DC and on March 20th, Dr. Bopanna Ballachanda and Dr. Tena McNamara, and myself charged The Hill in DC as a united front to support the Medicare Audiology Access Improvement Act. We had some great meetings and I look forward to gaining further support from Members of Congress through the year. I want to thank the HIA for putting on the conference and giving the academies the opportunity to attend and lobby together. ADA, ASHA, and AAA also hold a monthly president meeting to discuss professional issues and identify areas where we can align to better move forward on the big-ticket items on which we agree. These communications build trust and will ultimately move our profession forward.

For the first 4 months of this year, ADA has been focusing on the fundamentals of communication and gaining relationships within our organization and with our extended partners. I look forward to the next 8 months as we continue to see where this goes. ■