Healthcare leadership skills are unique because of the medical profession’s patient-centered nature. Developing skills that will help you lead effectively in healthcare settings can be done in a number of ways.
If you are seeking to improve your skills, you have come to the right place! In this article, we will go over a thorough list of important healthcare skills that will support leadership development.
Additionally, we will cover specific ways you can develop your leadership skills as they relate to your industry.
Did you know that the typical nursing leader has 40 or more direct reports? What’s more, they are responsible for quality outcomes and operating efficiency!
While some believe the best of the best are natural-born leaders, the truth is that effective leadership is a skill you can learn and enhance. With dedication, resources, and support, anyone with an interest in developing healthcare leadership skills can succeed.
Now, there are many leadership styles. As you hone your leadership skills, you will understand your own personal style more and more.
Maybe you are more of a coach.
Perhaps you lean toward group-think.
Whatever your style, understanding it will help you choose positions that are best suited to your skill set.
Before we dive into our healthcare skills list, let’s begin by defining leadership. According to BusinessDictionary.com, leadership involves:
- establishing a clear vision,
- sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly,
- providing the information, knowledge, and methods to realize that vision, and
- coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders.
A leader steps up in times of crisis and is able to think and act creatively in difficult situations.
Now that you have a clear picture of leadership and it’s styles, let’s focus on the healthcare aspect.
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Healthcare Leadership Development
We have accumulated five foolproof ways for you to hone your healthcare leadership skills.
There are endless responsibilities involved in healthcare leadership. In order to manage these responsibilities (and in turn, your team), you need to continually work on leading with efficacy.
What are some of the job-related responsibilities healthcare leaders are expected to handle?
Here are just a few:
- Developing policies and procedures
- Evaluating staff
- Facility management
- Human resources management, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, firing
- Manage performance and service goals
- Increasing productivity
- Operations management
- …and so much more.
Leaders in healthcare are expected to perform at an increasingly high level because of their chosen profession. When the health and well being of countless patients relies on you and your team’s ability to work effectively, the pressure is on.
So how do you become a great leader…and how do you continue to hone those skills as the years go by?
Let’s dive in.
5 Important Healthcare Leadership Skills For Career Growth
1. Find Non-Work Related Leadership Opportunitie
There are a number of ways to practice your healthcare leadership skills outside of work. Since so many of these skills transcend industry, you can work on them while doing almost anything you enjoy during your leisure time.
For example, consider these options:
- Join a professional development group
- Volunteer at charitable organizations or as a community health worker
- Work on your hobby or passion project (in a group setting)
- Take up a sport
In any of these scenarios, you will have opportunities to lead others. Even if you are not the president of the group or the captain of the team, your contributions will inevitably help others in some way. Find little ways to support and lead your peers during these situations.
2. Seek Out Learning Opportunities
There is a popular saying that you “learn something new every day”, and when it comes to honing your leadership skills, that should definitely be the case.
Between on-the-job learning, online courses, professional conferences and informative articles, there are seemingly endless opportunities for you to learn more about leadership on a daily basis.
Some of our favorite leadership resources are:
For the simplest option, just google “leadership skills” and read a quick article each day!
Ultimately, the important thing to remember here is that you will evolve in your leadership role. It is inevitable that you will become wiser as you gain more experience and that wisdom will affect your leadership style as the years go by.
However, if you are serving as a leader in the same company or even the same industry over a long period, you may miss certain things. That’s where outside resources like the ones listed above can help keep you well-rounded.
3. Keep a Leadership Notebook
This one may surprise you, but journaling has many benefits that directly relate to leadership qualities. In fact, the leadership-based benefits below are proven results of regular journaling:
- Journaling regularly takes discipline – an important skill to master for all leaders.
- Writing down your goals helps keep you accountable.
- Journaling forces you to engage in your thoughts (mindfulness) making you less reactive and more proactive.
- Your memory and comprehension skills sharpen when you write.
- Writing and intelligence are connected. The more you write, the better.
For more ways, journaling is proven to help, check out this Huffington Post article.
Keeping a consistent log of your thoughts can also help define your own personal philosophy for healthcare.
4. Practice Your Communication Skills Regularly
Great leadership is inextricably tied to great communication. For example, if you cannot make your point in a succinct and convincing manner, you can’t expect others to support it.
There will always be those who disagree with your point of view or want to question your methods and processes. Developing strong communication skills empowers you to converse with people who aren’t readily willing to follow your lead.
Perhaps the most important communication skill to master is one that doesn’t require any speaking at all. Learning to listen is hard for many people as our natural instinct is to prepare a reply or rebuttal, especially when we are being disagreed with.
Active listening is accomplished when you give your full, undivided attention to the person with whom you are speaking. Practicing this correctly means you are not distracted by anything, not even your own thoughts, while the other person is trying to make their point.
Listening while disengaged is a surefire way to end up with miscommunications and unresolved disagreements. When it comes to leading people who may not be easily led, start by listening and acknowledging their words.
Separately, strong communication skills ensure you can inspire those who are naturally drawn to your leadership style. Communicating positive reinforcement regularly goes a long way when it comes to maintaining strong relationships with your team. You want to have wide open lines of communication as often as possible to keep your team feeling in the loop and appreciated.
5. Take a Leadership Personality Test
There are a number of leadership personality tests you can take (and retake, because you will inevitably evolve). These tests are designed to help you understand who you really are as a leader.
Knowing the type of leader you are is an important element of growing in your role. As mentioned, your experience through the years will help you to evolve over time. Making time to review your leadership style once a year (give or take) is a powerful way to stay in tune with where you are vs. where you were.
Take a look at five tests you can take to determine your leadership personality:
Some tests are more in-depth than others. If you are looking for a deep dive, we recommend number one or four. If you are interested in a more laid-back approach, try number five.
Healthcare Skills List
Last but not least, we’ve accumulated a list of must-haves when it comes to healthcare leadership skills. In fact, you will see that this list applies to leadership in most any industry!
- Problem solver
- Strong time management skills
- Adaptable personality
- Strong written and verbal communicator
- Critical thinker
- Able to prioritize
- Fosters cooperation
- Can influence others
- Decision maker
- Strong multitasker
- Motivates others
- Pays attention to detail
- Shows tact
Of course, you are not expected to master these skills overnight. It may seem overwhelming, but the truth is that you will get a lot of practice with all of these skills at work and in life.
Once you have mastered one or more of these skills, be sure to add them to your professional resume to stand out!
To do your very best, follow the five guidelines outlined earlier in this article. Journaling is an especially useful tool when you have so many skills to master. Taking notes about your daily leadership activity will help you to identify which skills you are mastering, and which need more practice.
It is no secret that leadership in the workplace plays a massive role in the success of any business. When it comes to healthcare leadership skills, there are literally lives on the line. Developing these important skills is crucial for those in leadership positions.
When honing your skills, focus on these five steps:
- Find non-work related leadership opportunities like sitting on a nonprofit’s Board of Directors for example.
- Seek out learning opportunities such as online courses, professional development seminars and more.
- Keep a leadership notebook because writing about work experiences helps you see areas for improvement in hindsight.
- Practice your communication skills (aka: listen more)…both in and out of the workplace.
- Take a leadership personality test once a year (or more).
In your opinion, what is the most important of all the healthcare leadership skills?
Share with us in the comments below!