No matter the industry, leadership takes a special set of skills in order to be successful. The qualities a healthcare leader needs to possess are not only the hard operational skills in their specific field and business, but also the softer people skills to manage the employees on their team. The unpredictable and constantly evolving healthcare industry combines the pressure of leadership with the high stakes that go along with being in an industry that affects human life. The following are five qualities that are essential for a healthcare leader to possess:
An Unbiased and Independent Thinker
It would be an understatement to say that changes happen every day in healthcare. New research findings consistently improve quality of care and transform the way that things were done the day before. A leader must use the valuable information that they have learned through years of work and experience while also constantly being open to new proven solutions. The majority will tend to stick by the way things are currently being done simply because change is uncomfortable and often difficult. Not only do new findings require an open mind, but a willingness to admit that things might have been done the wrong way in the past. As Entrepreneur Magazine very simply states “If you ease up on learning new skills, you are going to get lapped”1
A Lifelong Learner
It is very common that to qualify for a leadership position in healthcare, one must have a combination of both experience in the field and formal education. If leaders qualify for a position and then stop pursuing education, they will quickly find themselves losing ground. Ivey Business Journal states that “the trick to good leadership is making time for the hard work that continual learning requires.”2 Continuous learning also facilitates remaining an unbiased and independent thinker. Being reminded of changes and improvements will only keep the mind in the habit of remaining open.
An Embracer and Maximizer of Technology
Forbes Magazine recently released an article that states “By 2020, chronic conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, are expected to be diagnosed in minutes using cognitive systems that provide real-time 3D images by identifying typical physiological characteristics in the scans”3 New imaging is just one of many astonishing advances that technology alone will bring to the healthcare world. A leader must not only embrace technology, but advocate for it when others may be resistant to change.
A Customer Service Advocate
HFMA recently wrote “Patients, employers, government agencies, and health plans increasingly want to know what they can expect to receive for what they pay for care. They are seeking out providers who will give them this information and follow through with cost-effective care. They are, in other words, expecting to get value.”4 A vast array of provider choices combined with a generation of online researchers and reviewers had commanded that we treat patients the way any other business treats and retains customers.
An Excellent Communicator
Initiatives introduced by a leader are only as good as the implementation of the team that they lead. Healthcare leaders often oversee large teams and must find ways to communicate to an array of personalities and work styles. “As a leader, great communication is critical not just to provide details about the mission and vision of what you are trying to accomplish, but also to motivate, inspire and manage relationships to move people in a desired direction”5
1 Clifford, C. (n.d.). If You Want to Be a Big Deal, Never Stop Learning. Retrieved September 16, 2016, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235221
2 Ivey Business Journal. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2016, from http://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/good-leaders-never-stop-learning/
3 (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/reenitadas/2016/03/30/top-5-technologies-disrupting-healthcare-by-2020/#6b61c19a6252
4 (n.d.). Value in Health Care: Current State and Future Directions. Retrieved September 16, 2016, from http://www.hfma.org/Content.aspx?id=1126
5 (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2016/05/23/5-tips-for-improving-leadership-communication/#70b8669d68f1