Healthcare is a tricky space to be in. At the heart of every decision is a human being, or at the very least, a group of human beings. With such vital topics as global pandemics and the importance of a One Health approach to medicine and healthcare, the need for strong managers and influential leaders has never been more apparent.
While many of us do not like to think of hospitals as businesses with a board of directors and a CEO, the stark fact of the matter is that, just as in any business, hospitals and other healthcare settings need to be run efficiently, on budget, with customer service at heart. They also need to be innovative and uphold a good reputation with people who use the services they provide.
Administrators vs. Clinicians
The problems, of course, arise when the stark gap between clinicians and administrators arises. While many physicians are excellent at problem-solving and thinking out of the box, being an administrator is not always their forte. Managing budgets, policies, and other bureaucracies, may not come naturally to many clinicians who went into their field with a hope to affect change in the lives of patients.
For this reason, we are now seeing many universities and colleges, including various forms of administrative training within their programs of study or as optional extras. It is not uncommon to see courses on management, marketing, and accounting pop up. For advanced nursing practitioners, it’s now possible to take DNP executive leadership courses specifically designed to turn practitioners into great leaders and administrators.
Excellent Leadership is Vital
Being a good leader does not always come naturally. Some people are natural leaders, and for others, it is a chore and a skill that needs to be practiced regularly. It also depends on the setting; some find it easy to switch to leadership mode in almost all circumstances, whereas others will shine in areas they are confident but shrink back when they are not.
No matter the difficulties of being a leader, it has been shown in study after study that great leadership is vital, as Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, put it so eloquently:
“No one wakes up in the morning to go to work with the hope that someone will manage us. We wake up in the morning and go to work with the hope that someone will lead us.”
4 Reasons Healthcare Needs Great Leaders
To Uphold Healthcare Integrity
Healthcare is facing a battle for integrity right now. More and more people seem to be becoming disillusioned with the care they are receiving, and conspiracy theories over everything from illnesses to whether or not to vaccinate children seem to be running rife.
The Healthcare field needs great leaders who will uphold the integrity of the field. Ensure that physicians and nurses are still seen as first and foremost there to help. Leaders should set the ‘moral tone’ for the hospital or other setting in which they find themselves and always act with integrity.
To Facilitate Communication at All Levels
To be a great leader is to be a great listener. That fact is undeniable. Within the healthcare field, organizational hierarchies can sometimes mean that those who are on the “bottom” can sometimes feel left out like their opinion is less valid than others.
Often, those working at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy are the ones who have the most contact with patients and patients’ families on a day to day basis. This means it is vital for healthcare leaders to facilitate communication between all levels of employees to ensure that everyone feels valued, understood, and like their voice matters.
To Provide Empathy to The Wider Team
Considering others’ feelings can be a tough thing to do at times, especially when it seems like the complaint from the person you are speaking with is a little on the meager or unsubstantiated side.
Great leaders do not think this way. Great leaders follow the advice of Canadian Clinical Psychologist Professor Jordan B Peterson,
“Assume that the person you are speaking with knows something you don’t” (Peterson, J. B. 12 Rules for Life).
Great leaders will give credit to the complaints of any member of the team and investigate them, they will also spot people and ask questions instead of jumping to conclusions. There is a big difference between threatening to fire a failing colleague and asking if there is anything you can do to help.
To Provide A Positive Outlook
Healthcare can be tough. There are no two ways about it, you are dealing with life and death situations every day. Sometimes biology is on our side, and we can make the patient well again reasonably quickly with minimal intervention. Other times we are not so lucky. Either the patient passes away, leaving a devastated family behind, or the ‘cure’ is debatably more dangerous than the affliction.
It is for this reason that people working in the healthcare field are put in an ‘at risk’ category for depression and suicide. Even the most reliable member of your team can succumb to the demons of the job on a bad day, and without great leadership to help sail through the storm, this can slowly creep out and infect the rest of the team.
Leaders understand when to probe a little further into the issues presented, when to leave them be and when to seed out help from other professionals. This may be instructing employees to take some time off, helping them get access to therapy or counseling, or understanding that sometimes an employee just needs to talk through their problems with a trusted colleague without fear of reprimands or negativity.
Great leadership within the healthcare field comes in many forms, from right at the top, a strong CEO leader, or right at the bottom with a member of staff vowing to look after those to the left of them and those to the right of them, Great leaders recognize other strong leaders amongst them and work hard to ensure that those who aren’t as strong are built up while stamping out those who seek to undermine.