How Do You Define Healthcare Leadership?

Healthcare is becoming an increasingly difficult and changing environment for professionals to navigate. The healthcare leader of today and the future will need to know how to get things done while adapting to a new dynamic hospital business model.

Healthcare reform continues to drive the rapid pace of change, generating mass uncertainty within the industry. Healthcare leaders are evolving and developing new skill sets so they can successfully lead their organizations. From the meeting reform mandates to addressing widespread professional shortages, today’s healthcare leadership faces an overwhelming array of challenges.

For healthcare organizations to remain effective and successful during these tumultuous times, a new kind of healthcare leader is needed–one who has the right specific skills, personality traits and leadership qualities. Along with securing the right leadership, healthcare organizations need to work to understand their own challenges and be more deliberate in how they go about identifying, selecting and developing leadership.

Below, we will discuss why strong healthcare leadership is more important than ever as well as the qualities that define strong modern healthcare leadership.


Healthcare Requires a Special Kind of Leadership

In today’s healthcare industry, building a pipeline of talented leaders and obtaining leadership success is no longer just a luxury, it’s critical. The traditional strategy of simply hoping physician, nursing and administrative leaders emerge can no longer be effective.

Identifying, developing and retaining leadership has always been a challenge for almost every industry. In fact, nearly half of leaders and managers are estimated to ineffective or incompetent, according to a recent study by Select International Healthcare.

A recent survey of HR professionals revealed that only about a quarter of healthcare professionals would rate the leadership in their company as excellent or even good. Perhaps surprisingly, lack of competence, knowledge and experience aren’t the leading deficiencies of an ineffective healthcare leader. Instead, “leaders generally struggle because of a failure in behavioral skills, especially emotional intelligence.”

In healthcare, leaders must be resilient and emotionally strong because the challenges are more complex and the stakes (oftentimes literally life and death situations) are much higher than other industries.


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Unique Challenges Facing Today’s Healthcare Leadership

The following are the top challenges facing today’s healthcare leadership, excerpted from a recent report by Select International Healthcare:

  • Spending to provide the service continues to grow at a pace that outpaces revenue, resulting in constantly declining operating income.
  • Regulations are increasing, despite healthcare already being one of the most highly regulated industries.
  • Widespread uncertainty about the direction of the industry, especially because of the upcoming election.
  • A demand for new levels of quality and cost transparency.
  • Rapid growth of non-traditional competitors.
  • The move from episodic care to managing chronic conditions and population health.
  • The rush to understand the cost of providing service
  • Rapid advancement of technology, innovation, coupled with the need to analyze solutions with far greater speed and accuracy.


Qualities of Exceptional Healthcare Leadership

  1. Strong Communication and Individual Skills —

Taking these changes and challenges into account, healthcare leadership doesn’t have the luxury of a clear mission. Organizations have to grapple with a more complex environment, oftentimes involving multiple external and internal parties who are part of the decision making process. It can be a challenge to convince these parties to buy-in to different initiatives. Leadership must be able to align the goals of fragmented constituencies while also prioritizing margin, patient care, teaching and keeping the regional population healthy.

Organizations and boards of directors will need to look at the skills of each individual and consider how they might help them overcome challenges. A senior leader could work well at one organization, but be completely ineffective at another.

Traditional leaders were groomed and educated in a pre-Affordable Care Act culture, driven by an academic structure and “fee-for service mentality.” However, modern healthcare challenges require more “emotional intelligence, communication and listening skills,” along with the ability to work build a good team and be a strong team member.

  1. Addressing Revenue Loss —

Leaders should be able to think strategically about how to address revenue, collaborating both internally and externally. To build a team, they must be able to identify, recruit, retain and develop the finest physicians, nurses and staff available. Because technology has become an integral part of healthcare, leaders must understand their role in improving quality, safety and productivity.

  1. Dealing With Adversity —

Criticism from patients is unavoidable. A strong healthcare leader knows how to accept criticism from patients, families, the public and others as organizations make data increasingly transparent. Difficult times will be unavoidable, and the best leaders know how to gracefully lead people through them by communicating change and urgency without creating fear or uncertainty.

  1. Paving the Way For the Organization —

No leader can be effective forever. That’s why it’s vitally important that healthcare organization select leaders who will help to develop the next generation of leaders by teaching them the fundamental difference between simply managing and true leadership. To do this, a new level of business acumen must be displayed and realized.

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Improving the Way Healthcare Identifies and Develops Leaders

Healthcare leaders must be more effective at all levels and focus on developing their approach to succession planning, according to Select Healthcare International. However, for some organizations, this task can be too costly, time consuming, or burdensome to bear. In that case, working with a recruiting firm that specializes in executive recruiting can be beneficial. At healthcare international we take into account the specific hard, soft and behavioral skills a senior leader would need to be effective at your organization.

Our recruiters provide much more than a recruiting service–they are a business partner. Healthcare Recruiters International is the first place that top healthcare organizations go when they need to identify, hire and retain top healthcare talent. Whether it’s a new medical director or a new CMO, our recruiting specialists take the time to get to know the needs of your organization and its culture to provide the perfect fit.

Our recruiters are experts when it comes to executive retained search for Pharma, Hospitals and Biomedical. Healthcare systems and hospitals can benefit greatly by partnering with a recruiting organization because it can add tremendous value to the talent aquisition landscape of an organization. Recruiters can help guide you through the complexities of the market, supply and demand.

Healthcare Recruiters International also specializes in recruiting executive leadership for Academic Medicine, Biotech and Managed Care.

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