Monday, April 12, 2010

Eight Characteristics of Today's Successful Leaders

No one would argue that these are challenging times for healthcare leaders. They were challenging even before the new reform bill was thrust upon us. It takes a special leader to guide an organization through the obstacle course that lies ahead. In a recent article in Frontiers of Health Services Management Debra Sukin lays out eight characteristics that leaders need today. I think she does a great job of hitting all of the key points.

1) Passion- This is something that you can't fake. You either have it or you don't. I have always found it easy to feel the passion for what I do in the healthcare field. Along with the frustrations and battles comes a great sense of accomplishment. We are doing important work. Today's leader needs this as inspiration to sustain him or her through the increasing challenges that lie ahead

2) Vision- While passion gives you the drive to keep going, vision gives you the direction. Obviously both are equally essential. Today more than ever, many constituents of your hospital are looking to the top leadership for a clear game plan. Not only must you show them where the organization is going but also make them a key part of getting there.

3) Quality Outcomes- My tag line is "Quality First and Finances Follow" for good reason. Today's market is putting a priority on best value, not lowest cost. You need to start with great service and then provide it efficiently. These two actually go hand in hand.

4) Industry Knowledge- Every great leader goes through a learning curve on the job and in the trenches. There is no substitute for experience. Leaders may be born with natural ability but they hone their skills through years of using them and learning the industry.

5) Critical Thinking- Today's leaders are bombarded with data, probably too much. The critical thinker knows which data is important and how to use it to make informed but decisive action plans. The proper course of action is not always black and white. Sometimes sound judgement is involved to make the best of competing choices.

6) Perspective- I have seen leaders get caught up in the importance of their position and forget what is really important and who makes the healthcare system work. As key as the leader may be, he or she is only one of the many making it happen.

7) Adaptability- There are no cookie cutter solutions because each organization is unique and the field is changing constantly at a fast pace. We have learned this well at Compirion Helathcare Solutions. We enter each hospital and first learn about its particular issues and frequently modify our plan as we go.

8) Continual Learning- Life is a lesson. If you have gone a day without learning anything new, it is a wasted day. In addition to the on the job learning that occurs, it is just as important to keep up with all the industry trends and developments. Every great leader sets aside time for continuing education.

To all the engaged leaders out there I thank you for what you do and encourage you to press on even harder during these challenging times. Your work has never been more important.

Mark Brodeur


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