What Kind of Health Care Leader are You?

Leadership at health care organizations is being tested like never before. The move away from fee-for-service (FFS) to a patient outcome based model means management has to get clinical care teams collaborating in a whole new way. Your leadership style and the culture you help create within your organization will be the deciding factor in determining whether your facility survives, and potentially thrives, in this new dynamic.

So, no pressure. Just the success of your organization riding on your shoulders.

The good news is that if you are reading this it means that you recognize the importance of being a great leader and seek out information to build your skills. Half the battle is being aware that you have a management style and committing to building on what is working and improving what is not.

There are a myriad of leadership styles. Personally, I believe that not just one style works best but, instead, a hybrid leadership style is more valuable. Let’s take a look at 3 styles of leadership that can be effective in a health care environment.

1) Visionary Leadership

Visionary leaders are adept at painting a picture of the future and getting others to jump on board to make it a reality. They inspire by helping team members deeply understand the meaning and purpose of the changes needed to bring the vision to life. The visionary leader is described by Daniel Goleman (internationally known author of the book Emotional Intelligence, which has sold 5 million copies worldwide)  as someone who does not necessarily have innate leadership skills but can attract the right talent for the team to realize the vision.

Are You a Visionary Leader for your Health Care Team?

Visionary leaders in health care are ahead of the curve and are preparing their team for the inevitable changes to our health care system. They are great motivators to effect change in the culture. But they can run into trouble when they try to motivate more experienced peers. 

2) Servant Leadership

The concept of servant leadership is referenced in history books as describing many rulers who almost invisibly led their people to a better place in life. There are many biblical references to servant leadership. While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in "The Servant as Leader”, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, Greenleaf said:

“The servant-leader is servant first…it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” Greenleaf describes servant leaders as being a catalyst for others to grow and succeed, helping them to become “healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous.”

Are You a Servant Leader for Your Health Care Team?

Servant style leaders in health care focus on building the skills and confidence of their team members to meet the challenges ahead. They provide the opportunities for team members to collaborate and take ownership of projects so as to better serve the organization. 

3) Resonant Leadership

Resonant leaders know how to respond empathetically and supportively to the needs of their team. This can be a crucial skill during a culture of change. Resonant leaders build positive work climates, while dissonant leaders are out of synch and out of touch, creating disharmony.

Are You a Resonant Leader for Your Health Care Team?

A study of nurses going through the intense stress of layoffs and reorganization found that the nurses with resonant leaders fared far better during the period, with less negative feelings and less impact to their work. Nurses with dissonant leaders reported three times more unmet patient care needs, and reported feeling emotionally exhausted four times more frequently than their peers who had supportive leaders. 

Finding Your Leadership Style

As I said earlier, the most effective leaders embrace a mix of styles and assemble teams that can motivate, support, and serve the vision that best serves the organization. Do you encourage yourself and the leadership team to think outside the box? Being willing to change will take you out of your comfort zone and will sometimes put you at risk. But what truly successful company has survived the long term without changing, if not what they do, at least how they do it? Ask Amazon. Or Apple.

The culture of an organization can be one to incubate new and creative ideas – CHANGE. Or, it can smother those initiatives that would change the status quo. So, what kind of leader are you and what kind of culture are you fostering for your organization?


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Topics: Hospital Management

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