3 essential characteristics of physician leaders

Successful and effective hospital physician leaders have several key characteristics, according to a study by Witt/Kieffer, Providence Health & Services and consultant service Hogan Assessment Systems.

Researchers analyzed performance data for nearly 100 Providence physician executives and conducted personality assessments. They determined that effective physician leaders had several qualities in common, three of which are:

Keeping their tempers in the face of small annoyances: Scores indicate top-performing physician leaders are less susceptible to suspicion, sensitivity to criticism, emotional instability and being hard to please.

Willingness to share credit: Top performers have lower scores for responsiveness to attention and praise, the study found, indicating they are less driven by the desire for recognition.

Optimism and strength under pressure: Physician executives ranked as top performers by their supervisors scored highly in the "adjustment" category, indicating high levels of confidence and self-esteem are critical to effective physician leadership.

In addition to determining the factors common to effective physician leaders, the research further indicates that effective physician leadership is a major driver of patient loyalty. Physician leaders who inspired higher levels of patient loyalty had several qualities in common, including persistence, self-confidence and willingness to mentor.

"Physician leaders are by nature curious and driven to improve," Craig Wright, M.D., a leadership consultant and former senior VP of physician services for Providence, said in a statement. "This research helps them to gain insight into their potential blindspots and areas for development opportunities."

Recent research indicates physician leadership can also strengthen clinical outcomes due to doctors' understanding of clinical challenges within an organization, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Organizations seeking to promote physician leadership should prioritize patient-centered care, simplify care processes and establish clear expectations as the basis for evaluations of clinical teams.

To learn more:
- read the study results (.pdf)
- here's the announcement