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Healthcare Leadership Has Transformed... Are You Keeping Up?

Healthcare Leadership Has Transformed... Are You Keeping Up?

Advancing the right people requires an orientation toward modern organizational change.


When it comes to providing value-based healthcare and a patient-centric approach, the bottom line is this: old systems of management will falter.

Because of industry reforms, healthcare organizations must realign their thinking – and leadership – to keep up with the changing times. Care is no longer confined within hospital walls. It extends beyond employees and practitioners and into the community.

That’s why it’s essential to elect and sustain leadership that not only possess a traditional skill set but one that reinvents the way each member of their organization percieves and enacts change.


What does traditional healthcare leadership look like?

In the past, traditional CEOs had solid financial understanding and operational acumen.

They also possessed:

  • Task oriented skills: The ability to complete tasks in order to reach a certain goal


  • People oriented skills: The ability to cultivate relationships with their employees and colleagues in order to foster a more pleasant and productive workplace.

These two skills combined were the perfect recipe for a good leader.

However, today’s healthcare landscape calls for so much more than that. Staying afloat as a small hospital and even a large conglomerate requires leaders to understand the bigger picture.


Who are the true contemporary healthcare leaders? 

They're a catalyst for change.

Today’s leaders know that the health of the organization cannot solely rest on their shoulders. Integration across departments and aligning expertise is key to fostering a culture of efficiency, innovation, and patient-focused care.

It’s necessary to develop a team of people dedicated to furthering the organization's mission, especially in the case of mergers and alliances, who will act as “catalysts of change” and guide their organization to make better decisions.

To build a better team, senior management should implement methods such as:

  • Transformational leadership. We know that leaders must inspire, but that’s easier said than done. A great leader will win over the hearts of their constituents by providing a mission that speaks to people’s emotions. Essentially, they must convey their sense of commitment from the “top” and allow that vision to motivate others to push it forward.
  • Collaborative leadership. Collaboration is crucial to innovation and driving change within an organization. When a CEO practices collaborative leadership, they communicate goals to their colleagues, but allow their teams to figure out how to meet those needs. This encourages a shared vision and mission. The best thing about collaboration is that it doesn’t only consider input from senior staff, but everyone involved in the organization.
  • Conflict management skills. Conflict is inevitable. It can stem from a clash in mindsets and culture, and also when two sets of leadership emerge from a merger or alliance. But regardless of origin, leaders should handle conflict strategically, with the goal of a positive outcome. This necessitates compromise, voting, negotiation -- and a healthy amount of collaboration.
  • Shared leadership. We mentioned before that a single person cannot be successful in advancing a mission of an entire organization, let alone a complex health system. When leaders choose other people to contribute to their mission, it empowers their new colleagues to act. Shared leadership is successful when the leadership team identifies their shared values and comes together to improve on old workflows and practices.


How to prepare your organization for contemporary leadership

Follow these guidelines:

In large organizations, it may be harder to see change right away. However, things move faster when you have explicit systems in place:

  • A competency model will help you determine qualities in leaders you need to move forward.
  • Assembling a Board of Directors to monitor your progress may keep you on track toward your goals.
  • Since no one can act alone, leadership planning must occur to have well-rounded expertise across all departments.
  • Cultivating leadership qualities early on and developing them over time breeds knowledgeable and engaged leaders in the future.
  • A performance review will keep leaders aware of performance and identify areas of improvement.
  • Choosing your new leadership team carefully based on behavioral metrics and competency reviews will ensure an aligned vision.


And enact these strategies:

How can healthcare leaders sustain their position while advancing the needs of their hospital? Contemporary leaders must:

  • Communicate a need. First, a vision must be developed. This will stem from understanding the current situation and weighing processes and programs to see which ones should be discarded and which, if any, should be implemented. Since people-oriented skills come in handy here, leaders should be able to leverage their own emotions to get others to act. In other words, their vision must become everyone else’s.
  • Reduce bias. Bias is a hard mindset to shake. Most of us know what we like and what we don’t. Bias leads to immobilization and obstinacy toward new ideas. At the institutional level, leaders open up the conversation to multiple stakeholders and allow for other perceptions and views. Gathering feedback from the patients themselves is a great way to improve a stale structure and breed trust.
  • Get others to act. A successful leader knows how to tap into other’s emotions and identify motivators that will get them to adopt change. Certain leadership teams choose to redesign organizational processes with a rewards-based system; others restructure their team to diversify skillsets (and mindsets). The most successful do all of the above, while building a coalition among their colleagues that will engage and excite the organization into action.
  • Evaluate. It’s easy to become invested in a vision. It’s much harder to discard that vision when it’s not working -- especially if you’ve dedicated so much time and energy to it. That’s why it’s necessary to evaluate new systems, and to do so often. This is perhaps the most crucial step of change implementation and it requires both tactical management skills and people skills to be successful.



What qualities do you look for in a leader? Do you have any strategies for implementing organizational change or improving transparency of processes? Online voting may be a solution to your change-making woes. Learn more about eBallot here.

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