Some leadership traits, like energy, enthusiasm, and the ability to inspire others, come naturally to people in executive positions. Other leadership skills are learned on the job, often through trial and error by executives working in their particular industry.
Healthcare is one of the most rapidly changing industries; healthcare reform is driving changes in care delivery and business models. If you are tasked with leading a healthcare team in this climate of transition, here are five tips to make you a more effective leader.
Recognize Talent and Know How to Keep It
Navigating the changes in the healthcare system requires innovative thinking and courage in the face of risk. It requires a team that doesn’t shrink from challenges and shares your drive to get things done—not only at the C-suite level but throughout the organization. A forward-thinking healthcare administrator makes recruiting and retaining the most talented people a priority at every level.
Understand That Change Equals Opportunity
The healthcare administrator who views change as an obstacle is holding his or her organization back. As healthcare reform moves forward, change happens fast, and knowing how to implement new methods is imperative. Healthcare leadership needs agile thinking to guide changes into opportunities to refocus the company’s overall vision.
Realize That Healthcare Is a Business
For healthcare providers, medicine is a calling. That’s a noble and necessary view for those who provide care. But at its core, a hospital is a business, and its mission is serving the needs of its customers in the most cost-effective way. Today’s leaders need a healthcare administration degree thoroughly grounded in sound business practice and theory in order to succeed.
Prioritize Excellent Customer Service
Today’s healthcare metrics focus on successful patient outcomes instead of the care and procedures provided. Hospitals must recognize that patients are customers and focus on service. In order to succeed, hospitals need to find new ways to provide the care and services their patients want in a financially responsible way. This means spending more time talking and listening to both patients and staff. As Peter Drucker, the management guru, said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Communicate a Vision
The best leaders have a clear idea of what success looks like over various periods of time—and they communicate this vision to others in the organization. Effective healthcare administrators have short-term (30, 60, and 90 day) goals as well as long-term (one, three, and five-year) goals. They create plans to achieve them and have the necessary skills to implement them. They use metrics to evaluate progress and know when to adapt or improvise. They also own their vision and accept responsibility for its failure or success.
Piloting a healthcare organization through a sea of change requires strong leadership skills and a willingness to embrace innovative solutions. It requires reorienting your focus toward a business and customer-centric model. If you are considering a career in healthcare leadership, an MBA in healthcare administration is an excellent place to start.