Skill #3: The ability to create strong, talented teams
Collaboration is an important component of good management and leadership, and Deborah Torain, senior account manager at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), says it’s a critical aspect of helping an organization adapt to an evolving environment. In fact, a 2016 white paper Torain co-authored for CCL specifically points to collaborative patient-care teams as the first essential component of a six-step model to help healthcare entities thrive. To develop collaborative teams, leaders must increase engagement and foster an atmosphere that allows for agility and adaptability.
Additional steps highlighted in the CCL white paper include transforming talent and expanding boundaries. Healthcare leaders must find new ways to bring individuals into roles that can effect positive change and innovation. This may mean bringing in individuals from outside healthcare, or helping those working in the industry expand their talents and skills.
In terms of background, physician leadership is still seen as the gold standard, but leaders with a nonmedical background offer certain advantages, such as an individual with a technology background, says DeChant. “… As the world is changing and so many more interactions are happening online or other virtual ways, we need someone with an understanding of what those are and what the opportunities are,” he says.
He adds that individuals familiar with Lean Six Sigma methodology, which is particularly valuable in identifying efficiency improvements, are also an asset. In general, individuals from outside healthcare might bring additional insight when it comes to efficiency improvements, offering a sense of business discipline that DeChant says that, up until several years ago, the healthcare industry had the luxury to ignore. Costs must be reduced, he says, adding that the national cost of healthcare—at 20% of the gross domestic product—is making U.S. healthcare noncompetitive on the global scale.
Still, leaders with medical backgrounds also bring important assets to organizations. “For the most part, you’re a much better leader if you understand the operations,” he says. “We need fresh ideas, but we can’t lose our core.”
Torain agrees there are benefits to having leaders with clinical training. Healthcare leadership isn’t a huge leap from a physician’s clinical role, but rather broadens the scope of the role they can play, she says. “Being able to bring in areas of expertise is truly critical, but to not miss any voices is an important piece,” she says. “Expertise can be enhanced. When we go so far off the mark without that direct experience, training, and the clinical aspects of patient care, key elements can be missed.”