How to Manage Difficult Team Members

  • Nathaniel J. SoperEmail author
Part of the Success in Academic Surgery book series (SIAS)


The unique demands on surgeons – the ability to act decisively even when data are limited, the necessity to improvise when unexpected situations occur, and excellent eye-hand coordination – created somewhat of a mythical aura about surgeons. Surgery as a profession has also been closely linked to the battlefield and the armed forces. Given the dictate for ‘managing the ship’ of the operating room, the need for quick compliance with orders and intolerance of delay reinforced these attributes, dictatorial behavior was often tolerated. It has become clear over the last few decades, however, that the best surgical outcomes are associated with good teamwork and a flattening of the hierarchy within a surgical team. This chapter serves to discuss how to manage difficult team members. This includes difficult and disruptive team members as well as impaired team members. As in all areas of human interaction, multiple personality types exist in the surgical environment and a knowledge and awareness of how to best manage these team members will help any leader to excel in achieving their overall goal and mission.


Team Member Disruptive Behavior Emotional Intelligence Leadership Style Personality Type 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryNorthwestern MedicineChicagoUSA

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