The 5 Most Important Skills for Healthcare Leaders

healthcare leadership

We’ve discussed before how tough it is to develop and to hire successful healthcare leaders. Individuals need both clinical skills and business competencies to guide their organizations to success. But when it comes down to the day-to-day management of a healthcare organization, which skills are must-haves, and which can be de-prioritized when recruiting or developing leaders?

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) wanted to answer that very question. They analyzed leadership effectiveness data from nearly 35,000 healthcare workers to discover which skills employees and executives think are crucial to success, and how to better develop those strategies in leaders.

While the CCL identified 16 critical competencies that healthcare leaders need to be successful in their positions, these 5 skills were ranked as “most important for success in healthcare organizations.” Whether you’re searching for or trying to mentor and develop leaders, make sure you’re concentrating on these 5 competencies:

  1. Employee Leadership Skills The skill considered most important for leadership success is one that is critical in every company, regardless of industry: the ability to effectively manage employees and direct reports. While considered a soft skill, the ability to lead employees is a highly variable one, and requires an individual to be self-aware and particularly savvy with interpersonal skills. This competency is so important for healthcare because they are able to delegate authority and action, and will better invest their time and resources in employees themselves, which positively affects employee engagement and retention numbers. For example, a good healthcare leader will delegate decision making to the lowest appropriate employee level, developing employees’ confidence in their ability to take action while freeing up their own time to focus on critical work that cannot move forward without a higher level of authority. Good leaders will consistently coach employees and provide challenges and career opportunities. We’ve always said that employees leave managers, not jobs – and in an industry with skills gaps and candidate droughts as severe as healthcare, you need to retain as many high performers as possible. Leaders with strong employee management skills will recognize and prioritize that work.
  2. Resourcefulness While this is another soft, interpersonal skill that is tough to objectively measure, it is an important one for all leaders to have, regardless of industry. There always seems to be a shortage of resources: less time, fewer skilled job candidates, reduced budgets, less wiggle room in regulations in order to operate successfully. A good leader is one who can creatively problem-solve for themselves and for their teams to provide everyone with what the need to perform their jobs and deliver superior patient care.
  3. Composure/Straightforwardness Healthcare is a fast-paced, high-risk industry – every decision healthcare practitioners make at work affects a patient’s wellbeing and potentially, their life. A good leader is one that can operate effectively in this stressful environment, and won’t react impulsively to situations that arise. With employee burnout at new levels in healthcare, strong leaders will do what they can to support and empower their team to take care of themselves and to mitigate as much of the stressful elements as possible in order to deliver better patient care.
  4. Change Management Healthcare is a fast-paced and ever-evolving industry, from new technological advancements to expanded governmental legislation, and leaders need to be able understand and adapt to changes themselves, and be able to guide their workforces and organizations through these changes efficiently and effectively as well. While leaders in some business sectors can take a more traditional approach to management, healthcare leaders need to be more flexible.
  5. Participative Management No leader is an island, and in healthcare, no leader can afford to be. Strong leaders use participative management techniques and philosophies to involve others in decision-making, build consensus, and influence decisions that benefit the larger group. Managers who value participative management also encourage others to share ideas, information, reactions, and perspectives—and they listen to employees. This investment in employees’ and peers’ opinions keeps employees engaged with their work and with their organization; it demonstrates that leaders value their contributions and want employees more involved with organizational strategy.

A strong leader can make all the difference when it comes to organizational success in healthcare. When recruiting or training leadership candidates, organizations must prioritize these skills when evaluating candidates. The right technology can better equip your recruiters and leaders to find and develop better leadership candidates; see why PeopleFluent has become the talent management partner of choice for some of the world’s most successful healthcare organizations.

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