Who really cares anymore? It seems like we are always asking this question in this day and age, whether it be at work, at home, everywhere! In healthcare, this question cannot go unanswered because it will be the patient who will suffer.
There is a common misconception that leadership is simply those who are in charge, who run the group and make the decisions, but that is just a superficial understanding of the concept. It is not a position held but the intimate pursuit of building relationships with others for a purpose. Without leadership, healthcare cannot function because it is built on relationships.
The pandemic put significant pressure on practices. To paraphrase, “Covid turned the focus of healthcare on patient care along with the safety of employees,” Chris Zaenger, president of Z Management Group, Ltd., noted when asked by NSCHBC (National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants) members. Because of the magnitude of the outbreak and concern for the safety of healthcare workers and the continuity of patient care, practices had to develop their own protocols, often with little direction from outside bodies. The need to rise to the occasion in many cases fostered new leadership as management and employees worked together to find solutions that worked for their practices. The core of healthcare is serving those in need of healing. To accomplish that, servant leaders place the interest of others, whether it be a patient or an employee, above their own. You may understand this, but does your staff?
The ideal place to start in creating a good team of leaders is in the hiring and firing process. You want individuals who are willing to learn and grow as individuals and members of the practice. Unfortunately, there are not many people who are currently looking for work, especially in healthcare; therefore, you need to do the best you can with the people you have or can get. So how can you develop leadership in your practice?
It will be extremely difficult, almost impossible, to set aside time for training programs, especially now. Fortunately, that is not where leaders are made. Leaders develop through daily interactions with those whom they admire and then emulate. Clinicians will improve the environment in their practice when they exemplify the ideal behaviors they want in their staff. New leaders arise if you communicate clearly the passions and goals of the practice and actively listen to the voices of your staff as they add their own perspectives. Your staff will be as committed and engaged in the well-being of patients as you are; therefore, go beyond yourself and be intentional with every interaction you have with your employees and patients.
What are the most important traits of this new class of leaders: the ability to change, to break the comfortable mold and do things more effectively. Throughout your area of influence, you must identify these key leaders in your staff to be intentional with, dedicating time to their growth and development through training and mentoring. As these relationships strengthen and build, the influence you have with them will trickle down to those they influence and so forth, reaching those on the front lines who interact daily with patients. The practice will become an organism united, composed of many interdependent members working towards a purpose.
Servant leadership isn’t limited to the workplace; we find it in all aspects of our lives. American author Warren G. Bennis says, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” If you communicate to your staff your vision and ideals, if you listen to their input, your practice will benefit with greater employee loyalty and confidence as well as enhanced patient care.
Article Submitted by Alexander J. Langel
- Kumar, R. D. (2013). Leadership in healthcare. Management, 14(1), 39-41.
- NSCHBC. (2021, July). Leadership in Healthcare: Identifying leaders within your staff and fostering growth. National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants, pp. 1-6.