March 3, 2017

Great Teams Lead to Greater Success

Insights from the President of Cleveland Clinic Florida


By Wael Barsoum, MD


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Some maxims are widely accepted because they are universally true. Nowhere is that more evident than with the expression: No one achieves success alone. Even more true is the fact that to be effective, a great leader must build a dynamic team with the talent, synergy and drive necessary to achieve a desired goal.

Good leaders infuse teamwork into their culture, creating the foundation for future success. Healthcare is certainly a proven training ground for this concept as caregivers must work collaboratively to provide patients with the best possible care. As an orthopaedic surgeon, I can attest to the fact that the operating room requires a highly skilled and cooperative team working in concert to restore function to a patient, whether repairing a torn ligament or replacing a joint entirely.

Tips to build and manage a successful team

Every leader, regardless of industry, knows he or she must have the right team in place to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate challenges. A plethora of scholarly and news articles on how to build and manage a successful team is evidence that among leaders, there is a thirst for information. A Harvard Business Review story by Jeffrey Brickman is relevant to creating a culture of improvement, such as our own flourishing campaign at Cleveland Clinic Florida. Leadership development programs for physicians and other healthcare leaders, like the Samson Global Leadership Academy at Cleveland Clinic, offer in-depth courses and learning experiences that help quench this thirst.


As the old saying goes, with experience comes wisdom, and over the years, I have developed a list of elements that I believe are essential to building a superior team. In addition to ‘putting people and purpose first,’ as Mr. Brickman suggested, here are some of my thoughts:

  • Take the time to evaluate the talent and people you have around you.
  • Make decisive changes to put people in roles that are appropriate and complement their skills.
  • Make changes that are symbiotic to the organization’s goals.
  • Appoint members to the team who work well together and are complementary.
  • Provide leadership and training opportunities to help leaders and team members grow their skills.
  • Acknowledge the role that team members play in achieving goals.
  • Don’t be afraid to reevaluate and reassign if a role is not right for a team member.
  • Celebrate team successes both big and small.

Great teamwork = better patient outcomes

In creating a culture of improvement at Cleveland Clinic Florida, we have seen tremendous growth in teamwork in all of our clinical and nonclinical areas. Nonclinical employees are also becoming enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate in our efforts to transform healthcare.

The evidence is clear that great teamwork in healthcare leads to better patient outcomes, and that is the purpose that we work to achieve every day.


Dr. Barsoum is President of Cleveland Clinic Florida and staff in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

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