3 ways to develop effective physician leaders

To produce physician leaders, healthcare organizations must supplement the clinical training provided by medical schools with the skills required to take on managerial tasks in a healthcare setting. Those skill sets may not be as far apart as commonly believed.

Leadership involves a change in perspective from one narrowly focused on the needs of a particular patient or physician to a broader view of an organization, according to Charanjit S. Rihal, M.D., chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

In a post for NEJM Catalyst, he points out that medical professionals have a foundation on which to build.

“Medicine requires critical thinking skills that are analogous to those required for effective leadership, such as assessing complex problems, formulating diagnoses, and generating action plans,” he writes.

RELATED: 3 factors that can make a better physician leader

To apply those skills effectively on a more strategic, organizational level, healthcare facilities need to institute programs that help physicians develop a suite of complementary skills. Among the most important, according to Rihal:

  1. Promoting listening as a vital part of interactions with team members. Effective leaders encourage their team members to participate, which makes shared decision-making much easier to accomplish.
  2. Strategic thinking about both the organization itself and its place in the competitive landscape. Effective strategy provides an overall direction that leaders use as a basis for the specific steps they take to move teams and organizations toward their goals. 
  3. Building teams to bring together a foundation of effective communication and strategic skills. To develop effective groups of individuals capable of working together to solve complex problems, team members must trust one another.