Becoming a leader in the healthcare industry takes effective communication, continued education, decision-making, workforce organization, networking, anticipating challenges, and using technology and technological advancements to your advantage. It takes truly productive and adaptable leadership if you are going to climb the ranks.
There is a direct connection between quality and quantifiable healthcare practices and effective leadership. Your approach in making an impact on your staff, individual patients, and your relationships with other healthcare professionals, is so important in leading your organization and others to success. Some examples of effective leadership would be providing opportunities and resources to improve your organization’s safety, innovation in medical research, building key relationships with other fields like those in pharmacy or a family physician, removing barriers, and you could offer leadership development seminars. What makes an effective leader in each sector of healthcare will differ based on your specialty, however, there are certain best practices in healthcare management that all great leaders exemplify. Below we will outline the top 7 traits for effective leadership in healthcare.
1. BE CURIOUS
Just because something has always been done a certain way, it does not mean that is the most effective way to carry out a task. Be curious and try to be innovative and more efficient with your tools, your people, and their skill sets. Being inquisitive, as a leader, opens up for great participation and unique ideas from your team members that are on the frontlines of what you are trying to implement. One of the most important roles of an effective healthcare executive is the ability to ask those tough questions of all parties involved and avoid making assumptions. Asking questions can also encourage team members to participate and share ideas.
2. DATA IS KING
One of the most effective ways to change assumptions and measure performance is to measure and track everything. Data is your friend and one of the most cost-effective ways of growing and nurturing your team and patient care. Many healthcare organizations already qualify and quantify vast amounts of data sets. Use that information to analyze performance and measure outcomes. You may find that what you thought of as a problem is merely a symptom of a bigger issue and that improvements have to start in another area. Measuring performance also makes it possible to identify people with high performance so they can be recognized; similarly, you will be able to spot people who may be struggling so they can receive more training.
3. SET EXPECTATIONS
Leadership in healthcare often means being specific about their challenges, desired solutions, decision-making processes, expectations, improvements to strategies and processes, and understanding the vision of business development. Specific expectations like how much time should be set aside for patient interaction and counseling or making sure that each intake file has the required documents in it before the patient can be seen are precise, measurable actions. This makes for often seamless implementation and healthy work culture.
4. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
In order to be more effective, healthcare managers should always base their actions on their words. Just like in parenting, your employees and competitors are watching you and learning from you. You are the driving force for the company, providing sound direction and motivation to get the job done.
The healthcare environment itself is constantly changing and more involved than most other industries, and that fact presents a challenge for healthcare leaders today. Many organizations are expecting more to be done with technology and fewer humans and keeping up is a struggle. However, not with the right healthcare manager and employee team. More effective healthcare leadership can help any department flourish even during challenging times.
5. DEDICATION TO SELF IMPROVEMENT
The only constant in healthcare is change. You need to make sure that you are staying on top of the current trends and innovations in your medical field, so, you can ensure your patients receive the best care possible or your employees understand the importance of self-improvement which impacts the patient care they provide. Leadership in healthcare means continually learning about new medical procedures and ways to improve your staff and organization’s efficiency. Effective healthcare managers work to further their education and provide opportunities for their employees to do the same. Leadership development courses, seminars, conferences, and online classes are all great opportunities for effective healthcare leaders and their staff to improve themselves. Plus, they are amazing professional networking opportunities for everyone from your nursing staff to your physicians to share information and learn from their colleagues. By establishing these different opportunities, you instill trust and loyalty is not only your employees but also your patients. Self-leadership is just as important as the leadership of others – taking this into consideration, leaders who understand this process can lead by example each and every day.
6. BE ADAPTABLE
As we have learned through the COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to lead has to adapt to the circumstances at hand. Even prior to the pandemic, those who have been in healthcare have to adapt to the digital age of healthcare. From charting to telehealth, you, as a healthcare leader are in an environment that is rapidly changing. You have to be able to provide sound decision-making and evolve in every scenario and recognize that there are multiple (right) ways of doing things. Patient-centered care demands adaptability.
No matter the relationship, communication is key in order to be effective as a healthcare manager. Strong leadership in healthcare means you have to be able to communicate with a variety of personalities and in different modes of communication. For example, you need to be able to present information in a way others can grasp the information, write effective emails to your entire staff, donors, investors, partners..etc... While being responsive in a timely manner. As we have learned this year, we have to be able to adapt and be able to host compelling Zoom conferences or appointments with patients. You also have to communicate efficiently with your patients and their family members. Learning how to specifically communicate with each branch of healthcare will take a lot of patience and practice.