Top 8 Practices of Effective Healthcare Leaders

Mark Madden

While there is no single type of personality that defines successful healthcare leaders, there are practices and tendencies these individuals typically share. Successful leaders always have a vision and strategy for the future. They know how to be a role model for both confidence and humility to their organization – and how to inspire performance from others in the pursuit of their goals.

Every healthcare organization’s primary mandate is to improve the quality of health in the communities in which they serve. Effective healthcare leaders possess common fundamental tendencies that help them accomplish this goal. Though individual visions and goals might vary, successful healthcare leaders generally exhibit strikingly similar core skills in building success. Here is a look at eight practices these healthcare leaders utilize to keep their organizations moving forward.

1. Lead by Example
As a leader, you are the face of the organization. Everything you do and say is under increased scrutiny, internally and externally. Your actions, conduct and personality set the tone for the entire organization. Not only is every employee looking to you as the most public expression of the organization’s vision, so is the community. Lead accordingly. Only by example can your vision be properly understood and ultimately embraced.

2. Build Strong Teams
As healthcare continues to evolve into Accountable Care Organizations and patient-centered medical homes, it will continue to require increasing collaboration. Therefore, it is imperative to know how to properly allocate talent and build effective teams – and to have the confidence to let those teams do their work. Effective teams reflect a variety of skills and experiences. Successful leaders recruit individuals who complement each other’s leadership skills and bring together varying experiences, perspectives and ideas. These leaders then give the team the freedom to explore new possibilities.

3. Encourage Participation
Successful leaders strive to create a culture of inclusion and security, because they recognize that good ideas can come from anyone. Only when people feel safe do they have the confidence to share their ideas. By nurturing an environment that encourages participation, these leaders establish a wider pipeline of creative thinking. This environment stimulates engagement and a greater sense of shared ownership of the vision. The most successful healthcare organizations have established a culture that embraces the administrative team, physicians, staff and the community.

4. Think Like a Teacher
A successful leader is, by nature, a great teacher. They know how to offer guidance, direct talent and provide honest, constructive feedback. Think beyond the traditional annual review. Instead, consider consistent, ongoing engagement. Effective leaders are constantly interacting with their team members, nurturing individual development and providing instruction – and praise – when needed.

5. Challenge Conventional Thinking
Successful leaders must consider innovative and unconventional ideas if they are to truly improve healthcare. They challenge the status quo and push those around them to do likewise. These leaders understand that innovation can come from anywhere – and anyone. But innovation has to be nurtured in an environment that encourages people to embrace new ideas and take calculated risks.

6. Measure Everything
In this data-driven digital age, measuring your progress has never been more accessible, more accurate or more expected. Like any other industry, outcomes count in healthcare. Measuring everything you do is the only way to precisely benchmark your successes and identify areas for improvement. That’s important, because you can’t leverage your successes without knowing what works, and you can’t make improvements without knowing what areas require additional focus. Measuring protocols can also provide valuable tools for recognizing and awarding achievers, as well as identifying those who need guidance.

7. Know How to Take Action
Changes in healthcare are inevitable. Successful leaders know how to manage change and take action. They are quick decision makers who consistently render good judgments. They rely on their own intellect and experience to direct and trust the human intelligence around them to solve problems. Nothing robs an organization of steam power faster than festering issues that go unresolved. Effective leaders set into motion solutions that can address problems as they arise.

8. Be Accountable
Successful leaders demand accountability, not just from their teams, but also from themselves. They realize that accountability leads to better performances, and by being accountable to the entire organization, they’re serving as positive role models for others.

These eight practices are vital to building successful teams and strong cultures. Additionally, successful healthcare leaders utilize experience, attitude and action to make a powerful impact on their organization and community. Their positive energy and influence is inevitably reflected in their team, improving performance and engagement across the entire organization.