With all the upheaval and uncertainty in the healthcare industry, strong leadership has never been more important – especially leaders who are also physicians. In fact, several studies have shown that physicians with leadership and management skills can be better suited to lead healthcare organizations than business professionals. Unfortunately, there’s an acute lack of physicians with the right skills, experiences and mindsets to take on those roles. They can grow into leaders but the transition is fraught with barriers.
In this paper, we examine the forces that have made it essential for healthcare institutions to employ many more physicians in key leadership positions. We then explain three common leadership deficits of physicians who are put in place to manage complex businesses or large numbers of people, and how those deficits can be turned into strengths:
- Inability to manage and develop other leaders. Specific skill-building and developmental feedback can help doctors learn about management responsibilities such as delegating and managing others.
- Poor relationship management skills. Personality typing tools and 360° assessments are powerful ways to show leaders how their actions and behaviors affect others.
- Lack of strategic perspective. Some companies create specialized programs to expose promising physicians to more complex aspects of running a business.
Finally, we show how several healthcare organizations have built development pipelines that move physicians through five levels of leadership. Among others, they include Sound Physicians and Benevis (a provider of services to dental practices across the U.S.), and how these leadership development programs have helped their institutions generate strong performance in an uncertain and highly competitive healthcare marketplace.