Management & Leadership Styles in Healthcare

Management & Leadership Styles in Healthcare

Healthcare leadership and management styles in organizations are of the utmost importance in strengthening the quality and integration of patient care, healthcare outcomes, patient and practitioner satisfaction, and continual business growth. There are countless assessments to determine individual styles of leadership, however, today we are going to focus on six leadership styles in healthcare that are prevalent and relatable to all healthcare fields. They include transformational, transactional, autocratic, laissez-faire, task-oriented, and relationship-oriented leadership.

What are leadership styles in healthcare? 

Leadership has been defined as the relationship between the individual/s who lead and those who make the choice to follow, while it refers to the behavior of directing and coordinating the activities of a team or group of people towards a common goal. Leadership styles in healthcare are those characteristics and methods that create and inspire effective innovation, work culture, learning from mistakes, thinking about the future, performance, and in turn, quality patient care. 

Healthcare leaders all over the globe are each required to be able to deliver safe, methodical, and expert level care to patients as one of the multiple functions that they perform each and every day. This includes, but is not limited to, being able to drive a team’s motivation, discipline, performance, high-quality patient care and experience, job satisfaction resulting in long term careers, specialized annual training, workplace culture, and pivoting to whatever is transpiring in the arena of public health. It is not an easy task, especially when every individual has a certain way of leading and being led. This is why it is imperative to learn what type of leadership style you or your manager has and how it relates to your position, as well as, the influence it has on effective patient care. The most common leadership styles that we have found are: transformational, transactional, autocratic, laissez-faire, task-oriented, and relationship-oriented leadership.


6 Types of Leadership Approaches in Healthcare

Transformational Leadership Approaches in Healthcare

Transformational Leadership is when a leader inspires positive change through inspirational methods. These types of leaders are generally very charismatic, enthusiastic, uplifting, communicate all necessary information, utilize mistakes as learning opportunities, and are passionate. They are often very hands-on with the goal that they are trying to accomplish and excellent about including everyone and making sure they succeed as well.

Transactional Leadership Approaches in Healthcare

In transactional leadership the leader acts as a manager of change, making exchanges with employees that lead to an improvement in production.

Autocratic Leadership Approaches in Healthcare

An autocratic leader is someone that is authoritarian. They are in charge of the decision-making, implement them, and do not necessarily elicit advice from their subordinates or peers. This is a great trait for those that are navigating an emergency situation.

Laissez-Faire Leadership Approaches in Healthcare

A laissez-faire leader is exactly that, a leader that is wholly hands-off of any decisions or implementation. 

Task-Oriented Leadership Approaches in Healthcare

Task-oriented leadership style involves a lot of organization and planning. They usually handle all directives of their subordinates, including the planning of work activities, clarification of individual tasks within the team, and making sure that all involved hit their targets.

Relationship-Oriented Leadership Approaches in Healthcare

Relationship-oriented leadership is very interpersonal with subordinates, peers, and business-to-business relationships. This style incorporates a lot of personal support, continuous professional and interpersonal development, and recognition.

What is the best management style in healthcare? 

The best management style in healthcare is a subjective conversation. There is no one-size-fits-all in every office, every field, every medical or emergency situation. This is why it is important to be a dynamic healthcare leader that can tailor your leadership styles depending on the situation at hand. Each individual that is led by a healthcare leader will require a different type of leadership approach when it comes to managing them and the tasks set before them. Understanding your environment and audience is a skill that most leaders have in healthcare. It is often found that the transformational or charismatic leader is most preferred in the healthcare industry. They can effect change while remaining enthusiastic in all situations. 


What is the role of leadership in healthcare? 

The Institute of Medicine IOM has described six characteristics of high-quality care that must be: 


  1. Safe
  2. Effective
  3. Reliable
  4. Patient-centered
  5. Efficient
  6. Equitable. 


Measuring health outcomes is a core component of assessing the quality of care. Quality measures are structure, process, outcome, and patient satisfaction. In order to be effective as a healthcare leader, they must maintain all six of those characteristics within their service or product. The leadership style of those at the helm is directly connected to the quality of healthcare that the patient receives and the employee is able to give.

In addition, a leader does not have to be the CEO or a high-ranking officer of a company. A leader can be anyone – they can lead a team to complete a project, provide motivation and communication for implementing new programs, or take the lead in establishing a new program. Leaders are at all levels in an organization be that a small group of 15 or a large multi-leveled organization with thousands of employees. 


How do I know my leadership style?

Self-awareness and understanding your leadership style is the best way to learn your strengths and weaknesses as a healthcare leader and create results for your team. In order to learn about yourself, there are countless (free) resources on the internet to determine your leadership style. We also go over this in-depth in our Health Institution Leadership track where students complete multiple assessments and begin to understand their strengths and opportunities in leadership roles. 


What is an important skill for a leader to have? 

One of the most important leadership skills to have is motivation. You have to be self-motivated to get up out of bed, create a vision for your team members, and conquer each day. You have to be motivated to make countless hard decisions, be goal-oriented and disciplined, enthusiastic about all tasks at hand, think about the future of the organization, and be motivated to create a thriving workplace culture for your staff. Motivated employees are the best and long-lasting employees and they get their direction and motivation from the top.


What is the importance of leadership styles? 

As previously mentioned, a motivated healthcare leader invigorates an entire team by being the driving force through initiating action and communication from the very beginning. Understanding the importance of leadership styles of both yourself and of your employees will prove to be very successful for the organization. In understanding the style of leadership you have, you will be able to effectively communicate, establish a balanced work environment, implement change, provide direction, create confident leaders within your team, provide high-quality patient care, while cultivating a healthy work environment for all employees. Excellent leadership styles want to see other leaders emerge on their team. The only way for a team to be truly successful is to understand how each individual organization functions, especially the leadership “driving the car.”


“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peters

Seven Tips for Finding a Good Healthcare Job During a Recession

Wyoming Graduation 2020

So, you just graduated and were expecting the booming economy to continue on. Now the COVID-19 crisis is here and everything has changed including an economic downturn. With unemployment rising and demand for new jobs trending down, it can be challenging to find a new job. You’ve likely been job hunting for months now but have had little to no luck in finding the opportunity you deserve or were dreaming of while you were writing papers and sitting through lectures. Job hunting may be a bit tough right now, but it’s not impossible! Here are seven strategies centered around how to get a good job in a bad economy: Continue reading

10 healthcare leaders share the best advice they received

Becker’s Hospital Review asked healthcare leaders to share the best piece of advice they’ve ever received. Below are some of the tips they’ve received about communication, forgiveness, and integrity.

Fred Kniffin, MD
President of University of Vermont Health Network Porter Medical Center (Middlebury)

“The best advice I ever received was in my first week as hospital president. I had never been a hospital president, had not planned on being a hospital president, and frankly, was trying to figure out exactly what a hospital president is supposed to do. The organization was under all kinds of stress, operational and financial. I was given a short list of people to reach out to, one of whom was Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board [our regulator]. We chatted, and at the end, I asked, Chairman Gobeille, ‘Do you have any advice for me?’ He responded: ‘Take care of your people.’ I had expected financial advice, like take care of your margin. I asked him — did he mean our employees or our patients? He responded ‘yes.’

“I felt a huge sense of relief. Taking care of people, now this was something I could do. Anyone can do this, really. It was good advice to me back then and continues to be helpful advice to fall back on when times are tough. It aligns with our mission of caring for our community, one patient at a time.”

Jim Guyn, MD
Senior Vice President of Population Health at St. Charles Health System (Bend, Ore.)

“Many years ago, while I was new to my practice as a family practice physician, I was given a pearl of wisdom. It was: ‘The patient always knows what is wrong with them, you just have to ask the right questions.’ Initially, I thought it was a bit flippant. But as I gained more experience I realized how wise it really was. The more time spent asking questions, understanding the patient, gathering history, the more cost-effective and accurately I could establish a diagnosis. I think this applies to many other lines of problem-solving as well.”

Alan Kaplan, MD
CEO of UW Health (Madison, Wis.)

“Overall, life and leadership is so complex that there isn’t really one piece of advice that stands out above the others, but rather a collection of advice from multiple individuals over the course of time that mold who we are. However, a piece of advice that stands out that I often remember is someone I worked for once said to me to always remember that integrity is your most important asset. I think what’s most important about the advice is the realization that integrity transcends just being honest. It’s about consistency, predictability. Yes, honest is the baseline, but then you have to be approachable. You have to be consistent. You have to proactively communicate. You can’t put people in a position where they’re blindsided, and so it’s really not just a passive quality, but one you have to truly understand and actively make happen.”

Read the other pearls of wisdom by clicking here –> Becker’s Hospital Review

This article originally appeared in Becker’s Hospital Review.