Physician Leadership – Improve Your Management Skills with These 7 Steps

May 17, 2017
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Physicians are, in corporate parlance, the project managers of the healthcare world. They lead cross-functional teams that treat patients. However, many doctors struggle with how to manage others’ work.

There are lessons from the business world that transfer to the medical field. Strong leadership focuses on establishing goals and ensuring that your actions contribute to achieving those goals. Here are some straightforward steps you can take so that you enhance your team’s performance.

7 Steps to Being a Great Manager

  1. No Gossip – It is important that you never complain about someone’s performance or personality behind his or her back. If the complaints get back to that person, the team member feels betrayed. If someone has a genuine performance problem, talk to him or her directly.
  2. Offer Constructive Criticism – No one likes to be criticized; however, you must correct actions that are harmful or disrespectful. Instead of saying ‘you,’ focus on how ‘this action’ was risky. When using the word ‘you,’ criticism becomes personal rather than constructive.
  3. React Calmly – Confronting a problem does not mean berating others. When a coach constantly yells at people, team members stop paying attention. You must confront problems that impact patient care, but if you shout or embarrass someone, that person becomes defensive and will not listen to anything you say. Be firm but calm when dealing with any problems.
  4. Give Credit – People want to hear positive comments about their job performance. If someone handled a difficult patient well, tell her. If you implement someone’s idea and it is successful, let him know it. A sincere expression of appreciation improves that person’s morale.
  5. Practice ‘Active Listening’ – In a fast-paced environment, your team members are not always sure you understand or even hear them. The corporate concept of ‘active listening’ helps you focus on what a person says to you. Enhance communication at the office or hospital by:
  • Looking at the speaker
  • Giving him or her your undivided attention
  • Stating what you picked up from the conversation
  1. Be Clear, Consistent, and Decisive – It is a truism that good communication is necessary for a high-performing team. Do your part by giving very clear instructions and be consistent in how you handle situations. An indecisive leader causes confusion for team members so make decisions as quickly as possible.
  2. Set High Standards – You achieved your ambitious goal of becoming a doctor. Now you want the best outcomes for your patients. Successfully implementing high standards means holding team members (and yourself) accountable for the results.

Putting the Steps Together

A good leader integrates all of the aforementioned steps into his or her daily routine. Gossip, anger, and personal rather than professional criticism undermine your stature in the eyes of your colleagues. Achieving excellent patient outcomes requires establishing standards, listening to others to find out what it takes to accomplish goals, developing a plan, and clearly communicating employee responsibilities.

It is a cliche that attitudes are infectious. When you apply these seven steps, you model a high degree of professionalism for your team. Strong leadership inspires people to achieve the most ambitious goals. Always use the seven steps to accomplish excellent patient outcomes.

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