Essential skills, considerations in a changing landscape


As new leaders and presidents begin to assume their new roles during this dynamic era, it is clear that the role of the leader has changed dramatically over time.

Decades ago, chiefs were typically responsible for small departments, overseeing the research, clinical, and educational mission of an academic medical center. Today, they often run large clinical businesses that span an entire healthcare network. Much has been written about the growing need for managerial experience to ensure success in these important roles, and this urgency has increased as new clinical imperatives continue to develop.

With these changes in mind, what should we be looking for in leaders? What skills do they need to be successful? And how can we align incentives to drive their success?

What to look for in a chef

The ideal leader would not only have expertise in the tripartite mission, but also advanced management training or experience. Notably, this requirement could harm some applicants, so it should be applied with caution. For example, people who have held challenging positions in a more matrix support role, such as Residence Manager or Medical Director, may have developed very strong skills that are not recognized by our traditional criteria. In many cases, providing increased and deliberate training and staffing in areas where a leader may need time to develop skills is a great way to onboard a highly emotionally intelligent and adaptable leader who has all the skills of a great leader but may not have traditional management. live.

What skills do leaders need to learn to be successful?

The two biggest gaps I usually see in the experience of new leaders are basic budgeting or tax vocabulary and dealing with disruptive professors. Much of basic finance is intuitive and straightforward addition, subtraction, and division, but the vocabulary and syntax may not be obvious without a bit of training. Just as a non-medical professional may not understand or be able to put into context what a normal sodium level is, some of the data, such as the recommended number of cash days, may not make sense unless you don’t have some experience.

The gap in faculty management is two-fold: lack of experience in managing disruptive physicians and the panic that there will be a patient care gap or an unmanageable research consequence if someone is put in furlough or dismissed. In my experience, however, no one ever says “we broke up too soon”. While most situations can be improved with a factual conversation, it is also not uncommon for reported issues to be just the tip of the iceberg, and in these cases more definitive approaches are needed. Better to break up in many cases, because difficult situations often only get worse over time. Having experience, or a human resources expert to help you, can help identify terminal issues and those that can be changed through rehabilitation and communication, or creative solutions.

How to align incentives with future success?

Obviously, there are a number of compensation levers that can be used to incentivize chefs for certain types of performance. However, serious challenges can arise when the leader prioritizes performance metrics and delegates them to other team members who don’t personally benefit from that success, instead of working directly on them. A new idea proposed by some is to incentivize bosses to achieve certain goals by giving money back to their department for initiatives. This fits well with the concept that leaders often see their primary role as guardians of their faculty and department.

In conclusion, it is important to recognize that a lack of managerial experience does not have to be fatal to a good candidate for the position of manager. He or she can often acquire these tax, HR or managerial skills, while delegating them to experts initially. Excellent communication skills, confidence in decision-making, dexterous “people skills” and emotional intelligence are essential qualities to look for in a leader.


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