Effective leadership in healthcare means more than simply “getting the job done.” Exceeding expectations while maintaining group cohesiveness and earning the team’s respect should be the ultimate goal of an effective leader.
The question is, how? What steps should a healthcare leader take to ensure that the team is efficient, effective, and high performing?
The first step towards building a cohesive team is frequent and clear communication. A healthcare leader should connect with the team frequently from onboarding forwards, throughout any project or timeline. Regular communication allows not only for clear expectations to be disseminated to the team, but also opens the door for two-way interaction. Empowering the team to ask questions, raise objections, and make suggestions will reinforce a collaborative feeling and a sense of ownership of the project.
2. Lead by Example
The ability of a leader to communicate clearly sets expectations for the team. By exhibiting what is expected of the team through demonstration, an effective leader shows that no one is immune to these standards. A healthcare leader who works according to a set of guiding principles that have been communicated to the team as protocol will find more acceptance than one who preaches a “do as I say not as I do” policy.
3. Dialog and Feedback
Leading a team also means being part of the team. Don’t just set out the goals and expectations and then sit back. Allow the team to have regular access and opportunities for feedback. This type of environment promotes creativity, deeper thinking, and gives the team a feeling of empowerment and ownership. This in turn will lead to more investment by the team in a positive outcome that exceeds goals and metrics.
4. See the Forest and the Trees
Don’t make the mistake of treating the team as one indistinguishable entity. Get to know the group and the individuals who comprise it. Gaining a deeper understanding of the people who make up a team can create an opportunity to guide members towards tasks that play to their strengths. It will also help team members feel valued for their individual contributions, bring in outliers who might not be as comfortable working in teams as other people, and make every member of the team feel respected.
5. Be Frank
Not Frank, but frank. Be open not only about the positives, the goals, and the expectations for the team, but also be open when those protocols are not being met. Don’t wait to address an issue, this can lead to confusion about expectations or a snowball effect of worsening problems that could’ve been preempted. Also, be receptive to problems that are brought to light. If the team trusts that leadership will handle issues with equanimity they will be more likely to come forwards as problems arise, rather than trying to sweep issues under the rug.
6. Acknowledge the Positives
Rewarding good work is not only motivational, but it inspires a sense of ownership of a project. Nobody dislikes hearing “good job”, and this kind of recognition will instill a feeling of goodwill towards the leader, the group, the project itself, and even the company as a whole. Even if there is an aspect of a task that was not up to standards, recognizing the positives first will soften the blow of any negative feedback.
Nobody likes a micromanager. Let the team have room to be creative, adapt projects to their skills, and take on tasks that might normally be outside of their job title to help them feel empowered. This feeling of empowerment can encourage investment and ownership in the project and lead to higher quality outcomes.
Obtaining effective leadership in healthcare is more than disseminating orders and setting goals. These 7 principles are a roadmap towards being effective, earning respect, and accomplishing higher metrics and objectives.
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