Developing your skills as a leader is important in many aspects of healthcare. Not only does it allow us to have greater success in managing a practice or a service toward a vision, but it allows us also the potential to help our clients who are in need. There are many skills that we can develop as leaders that can also carry over into our performance when assisting clients.
The following skills are essential for any leader:
Communication skills: this includes clarifying goals and ensuring receivers of your message understand what you are saying.
Listening skills: this is fundamental, and successful leaders apply active listening skills, rather than passive, which allows the capacity to understand what others are conveying, reading body language, confirming what you are hearing, and validating to the individual that you are listening.
Stress management skills: this refers not only to the ability of a leader to manage their own stress, but also the stress of those around them. Understanding what stress is and how it occurs is a great place to start for developing this skill. Leaders that are not great at managing stress can be prone to procrastination in the workplace – which is not great in a busy clinic!
Technical competence: this involves the knowledge and skills needed to perform a task – which could be any task in the workplace. Knowing the ‘ins and outs’ of a task allows increased performance in a role, and will allow you to become a person that individuals can turn to for assistance. Knowing the areas of each task in your practice or workplace also then allows you to predict when changes might be needed and how to gain greater efficiency for your followers. Followers will develop trust in a leader who is competent at tasks.
Learn from mistakes positively: Problems are inevitable – but when these happen, dig deep and try to ask lots of positive questions so you can think outside the box to problem solve quickly without dwelling on things. By developing this within ourselves we can then broaden this feeling within our practice and our teams.
Knowing your followers: Managing staff is not the easiest thing I have tackled in my career. I was trained as a clinician, and definitely not trained in managing staff. Before I started any recruitment, I took myself off to study HR management to ensure I was more likely to get it right, and 8 years on from recruiting my first staff member I feel like, finally, I feel confident that I am going okay. I now have 7 staff members and in 2014 we were awarded the Wagga Wagga Business Chamber award for Employer of choice.
Self-planning skills: Everyone in healthcare needs to have a development plan. Learning is big on my agenda. It was a critical factor in establishing Maida Learning as I believe in the saying, "Learn as if you were to live forever" spoken by Gandhi, and learning how to run a great practice was something I was very passionate about. In healthcare, we know well about the notion of professional development. It is the same for you and leadership…develop a plan of how you will acquire the skills needed to be a leader and how you will strengthen those skills.
In summary, healthcare leadership involves coordinating and motivating other practitioners of different skill levels, and administration teams, to work together to achieve practice goals. Private practice leadership is therefore successful if leaders practice ethical ways to create trust and transparency, develop followers and provide opportunities for teamwork and input from followers. Is it challenging? YES! But…As leaders we are in a wonderful position to shape the future of those around us, and provide education, inspiration and purpose to individuals, whilst at the same time giving as great experience and exposure to know ourselves and grow. Win-win!