Chandresh Shah

You may be a great Physician but are you a Leader?

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You may not think so, but more people are leaders in the business sense than they realize. You need to understand how you lead and why.

Here are 8 Business Leadership Skills you need to succeed as a Physician Business Leader. We’re focusing on Business Leadership skills, not your Medical skills.

  1. Lead By Example. Get your hands dirty. One of the best ways to lead is by example – pitch in where needed, lending a helping hand. Leadership is also about communication. With everything you do, you must connect the dots and make sure everyone understands what and why you do things in a certain way.
  2. Passion. As a business leader you should strive to inspire through your passion and enthusiasm – genuine passion in what you do. Passion does not mean pushing people, but your belief in what you do rubs off on your staff.
  3. Be Organized. If your office and table is littered with patient charts, notes, to-do lists, you are disorganized. Look at skill no. 1 – lead by example. Don’t be afraid to use technology where available even if you are scared of computers and internet. Learn about EHR and good practice management tools, do your research, hire consultants if necessary.
  4. Delegate. Most physicians are good at this. You know you can’t do everything. A great leader needs to be able to delegate effectively. Let’s be careful here. You can’t just give orders and call it delegation. Delegation means communicating your vision, your passion and ultimately giving employees ownership of the work you assign them. They can’t just feel like they own the work, they really have to.
  5. Take Ownership and Responsibility. It is a very fine line between Delegation and overall ownership. When you delegate work and responsibility, on the one hand you transfer ownership. Employees treat it as their own. The question is, who is ultimately responsible? One big factor in Leadership is accepting and allowing mistakes to happen without reprimanding employees. Of course, as long as these are not, for example, blatant HIPAA violations. Your team has to know you’ll be there for them through the good and the bad times. You have to ultimately take responsibility for the overall mission.
  6. Communicate Effectively. Everyone knows great leaders have to be great communicators. A big factor in communication is the ‘art of listening’, ‘active listening’. You are inherently good at this. You listen to your patients all the time and then communicate the problems, assessments, diagnosis etc. All you have to do is extend this to your employees. Let them know what is working and what is not. How are they doing? Real-time feedback without waiting for the end of the year. Not just the bad, but also the good. Communicating success is also something leaders forget to do. People need affirmation. They want to know they did a good job. You just have to tell them. Do it very precisely without rambling.
  7. Know Your People. You have to know your people. Knowing employees does not mean friendship. It means knowing people’s aspirations and afflictions. Their drivers and motivations. Knowing people this way allows you to allocate work that motivates them.
  8. Be a Follower. Benjamin Disraeli said, “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”That sums up many of the other points so beautifully. Great leaders are followers too. If you’re a leader without following, you’re a dictator. And as fun as that sounds… Being a leader-follower means finding value in your team, getting inspired by your team, encouraging your team to communicate, brainstorm and be open.

Physicians are blessed with most of these skills. If there are a few holes, you have what it takes to polish and practice. Just be open to learning and your staff will be happy to be a part of your practice.