Leadership skills are crucial for physicians, who represent one of the most important occupations in our society. Physicians must be leaders in their field to provide excellent patient care, manage a large team and coordinate between departments, and support their patient's overall health with information about prevention and maintenance. For these reasons, physicians must learn about leadership skills not just as part of their general education but also as part of their continuing medical education (CME).
How can a physician lead their field? One of the most important skills in coordinating and making decisions in a fast-paced environment. Physicians must constantly shift gears from one situation to another. The following are some of the ways through which physicians can learn essential leadership skills:
Emotional intelligence (EI) is vital for physicians, who are constantly required to make split-second decisions that affect the health and well-being of their patients. For example, a physician might be dealing with a patient who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Such devastating news might require the physician to inform the patient about treatment options while maintaining a calm demeanor. In scenarios like these, emotional intelligence can help physicians balance their feelings of shock and anger with concern for their patient's health and well-being.
Physicians must establish solid and lasting relationships with the individuals in their practice. Physicians should utilize these relationships by learning the names of their coworkers and patients and spending one-on-one time with them to build trust and foster strong relationships.
Being a leader involves taking risks and acknowledging failures. However, true leaders are not defined by their failures but by their ability to learn from them and persevere through difficult situations. These experiences can help physicians build resilience, which will prepare them for the many challenges they will face in a busy medical practice.
Leadership is a lifelong process of learning and striving to better ourselves -- it never stops. Physicians can take feedback from others and use it to improve their leadership skills continuously. To do so, physicians must not be defensive about receiving criticism and instead seek feedback and address issues head-on.
Being a positive reflection of others means being able to motivate others and help them reach their full potential. As leaders, physicians have the opportunity to inspire their coworkers and patients alike through encouragement and inspiration, both of which are critical for individuals and teams alike.
The physician's responsibility is to create a vision for their practice that will inspire others to work towards the same goals. For example, one can have a vision of having an on-site medical clinic where patients can receive care without traveling long distances for treatments or procedures.
As leaders, physicians should be prepared for critical situations where conflict arises. A great deal of conflict can stem from differences in opinion or viewpoints, which must be managed to ensure a peaceful and productive workplace. There are many ways to resolve conflicts, but no one solution fits everyone's needs. Physicians must take the lead in finding concrete solutions that are effective and constructive; they should not expect others to follow their lead but instead should work through these issues collaboratively with their coworkers.
It is easy for physicians to take over conversations at the workplace to resolve issues. A more effective leader, however, listens and then speaks when it is considered appropriate. Physicians must listen when others have something to say and create a productive dialogue by asking and answering questions. When this leadership style has been mastered, it allows physicians to be leaders without being aggressive or overly assertive.
Patients are the most critical part of the healthcare equation. Physicians must be able to collaborate with their patients to empower them to make the right decisions for their health. Physicians can learn how to build these crucial relationships through CME activities and other training courses, where they can practice communication skills and gain experience with group work.
Aspiring medical leaders should look for opportunities to enhance their leadership skills through CME courses, seminars, workshops, and conferences. Participation in such educational opportunities will equip them with practical strategies they can implement as they grow in their career as a physician leader. Sign up on the Lead Physician website today and subject yourself to a series of online courses on improving your leadership skills to match the current market demands.