Leadership in the Medical Field: Series Part 3 — Soft Skills & Leadership

Leadership in the Medical Field: Series Part 3 — Soft Skills & Leadership

Today we have the third post in a three-part series from our regular contributor, Lindsey Harper Mac. Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree. You can find links to some of her earlier posts at the end of the article and you can find the first post in this series at http://wisewolftalking.com/2012/12/31/leadership-in-the-medical-field-series-part-1-what-it-is-why-its-critical/, the second post is at http://wisewolftalking.com/2013/01/07/leadership-in-the-medical-field-series-part-2-how-is-it-demonstrated/

In Part I of this three-article series, we introduced the concept of leadership in the medical field and explained how critically important the ability is for healthcare providers to demonstrate. The strong and unmistakable correlation between effective leadership in the medical field and the subsequent quality of patient care and satisfactory outcomes was established. That aspect of quality leadership’s immediate impact on patient care was used to justify educating all levels of healthcare personnel, from students in a medical assistant program to those in their first year of their internship. The diagrammatic tool developed by the NHS Institute for Innovation & Improvement and the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges (ARMC) was introduced as a tool to help professionals self-evaluate their leadership skills and identify any areas of weakness that might require attention. This visual tool, deemed The Medical Leadership Competency Framework, was described in brief detail. Now, in Part 2 of this series, we’ll turn our attention to a single wedge of the pie, “Demonstrating Personal Qualities” necessary to be an effective and capable medical leader.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series of articles, we’ve defined the concept of leadership in the medical field and why it is particularly important as it directly impacts quality of patient care. Because leadership has such a pronounced and direct correlation with patient care and shared leadership is even more beneficial than regular good leadership, this skill is one that needs to be taught at all levels of health care, from the students of a medical assistant program to postdoctoral attending neurosurgeons. We reviewed the the NHS and the AMRC’s Medical Leadership Competency Framework notated diagram, developed to help health care workers self-assess their leadership abilities when divided into five categories:

· Demonstrating personal qualities.

· Working with others.

· Managing services.

· Improving services.

· Setting direction.

In Part 2 of this series we reviewed the components of the leadership aspect “Demonstrating Personal Qualities” which included:

· Developing self-awareness.

· Managing yourself effectively.

· Continuing personal development.

· Acting with integrity.

Social Qualities for Medical Leadership

Part 3 and the final article of this series will review some of the social qualities necessary for medical leadership. Although sometimes referred to as “soft skills,” they are far from easy to acquire and practice with finesse. Yet they are integral to providing quality health care to a population that rises daily with unfilled openings for their providers. These social skills are virtually identical to those identified by Dr. Len Sperry’s work, “Becoming An Effective Health Care Manager: The Essential Skills of Leadership,” so we can assume that the social leadership skills necessary in Great Britain and the United States—despite the different medical systems each offers—are approximate.

 4 Aspects of Medical Leadership in Social Qualities

According to the NHS and ARMC’sMedical Leadership Competency Framework tool, there are four fundamental social quality aspects necessary for healthcare workers to demonstrate in order to be considered effective leaders. These aspects are:

· Developing Networks

As the Competency Framework wisely points out, developing networks means more than just meeting more of the same type of people. Rather, real networks break out of established habits to facilitate collaboration across an entire team of caretakers, regardless of the initials after their names.

· Building and Maintaining Networks

This action speaks more to treating one’s colleagues and team members with respect than it does slapping backs and shaking hands. Real network maintenance requires respect and communication.

· Encouraging Contribution

By demonstrating the respect suggested above, communication and contribution from all team members is facilitated.

· Working Within Teams

Far too many individuals misunderstand “teamwork” and “leadership” as the leader directing the team’s tasks. The real challenge of effective socially grounded leadership is the ability to work within a team as you encourage contribution and communication.

Conclusions Regarding Personal Characteristics of Leadership

As concluded time and again through repeated research, shared leadership provides the highest quality of health care. Our American health care system faces enormous changes over the next decade. A tidal wave of demographic change is already upon us, as the Baby Boomers grow older with better health care and medications. The nursing shortage remains, however, a tremendous issue as health care facilities rush to train paraprofessionals to help supplement nursing care.

Further, the Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010 by President Obama is designed to do nothing less than overhaul the entire health system with major changes to take place each year, over a decade’s time. The National Center for Health Care Leaderships emphasizes that the current health care providers who want to survive the upcoming changes secondary to the ACA must plan now for that change with effective leadership.

About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

Also by Lindsey Harper Mac

Leadership in the Medical Field: Series Part 2—How Is It Demonstrated?


Leadership in the Medical Field: Series Part 1—What It Is & Why It’s Critical

Career Development Part 1 – Why Get An Advanced Degree? The Answer is Obvious

Career Development Part 2: Want a Promotion? Focus on Factors Within your Control

Career Development Part 3: Performance Reviews: Painful or Helpful?

Entrepreneurs Growing Forward

Why “be the best” when you could be the one making the rules? | WiseWolf Talking – the WiseWolf Coaching Blog.

The Makings of a Great Leader | WiseWolf Talking – the WiseWolf Coaching Blog.


Unemployment – looking after your mental health!

Depression (emotion )

Losing a job is one of the most difficult things we have to deal with in life.  It ranks right up there with losing someone you care for or going through divorce.

“It’s a serious fracture in one’s world view,” says Robert London, M.D., a staff psychiatrist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive or a bus driver–your identity is very much wrapped up in your job. And to suddenly be without that identity can be devastating.”

That is why it can make you feel down in the first few weeks and seriously depressed if unemployment stretches over months.

It is all too easy to start believing that there must be something wrong with you personally or that you lack some vital characteristic that the rest of the world seems blessed with.

Sometimes you may not realise you are depressed.  You just want to sleep all the time, you don’t want to mix with other people and/or suddenly you start feeling mysterious aches and pains.

Now that you are depressed, of course, finding a job becomes even less likely and you may not feel you can make the effort.  If you do feel like this, then please do seek help from your doctor, coach or counsellor.

But how do you intervene before things become quite that bad?

Well, first, recognise the risk! Then, you need to take responsibility for looking after your own mental, as well as physical, health.

Being jobless can make you feel you have no control over your own life and that makes you feel insecure and unhappy.  So start to take control by giving yourself a set schedule for every day of the working week.

Make finding your new job your new job.  Set a time to start each day and make sure you are showered, dressed and in your new work space (allocate a space at home for this, if you don’t have a home office) by that time each day.

Work to a flexible but firm timetable for the day.  Explain that you will be working at home during the day to family and friends.

Each morning and evening allocate a time to check and revise your work-search “to do” list.  Make sure you build in some networking time – either by telephone, face to face or on social networks – social contact with others will be refreshing as well as part of your job search.

Make some time as well for your own personal development – are there new skills you would like or need to acquire?  The internet and your local library will help you to find free or at least inexpensive resources.

At the end of your working day, if you can, close the door on your working space or at least make it look different.  Then spend time with family and friends doing what you usually enjoy.

Resist the temptation to hole up in your house and wait for the world to come to you. As Dr London say “Isolation is a dangerous thing. When you live in your head, you ruminate and feed your depression,”

Try each day to find either something to be inspired by – nature is great for that – or something to laugh at.  Laughing at old comedy programs should probably available for us all as part of public health services.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence

If you would like to work on developing your own confidence, Wendy offers the Wisewolf Learn to Be Confident Program at this link

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

  • 12 Tips for Confident Interviews (leavingthepublicsector.blogspot.com)
  • 6 Tips for Confident Networking (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • “Gratitude Moments” (heatheregartshore.wordpress.com)

>New Shoes! Healthcare; Moving from the NHS to the Private Sector


Today we have a guest post from Cathe Gaskell, Managing Director of The Results Company whose motto is “extracting the best from your business”  
Cathe started her career in the NHS as a nurse within mental health.  She has worked in healthcare for nearly 30 years going on to be Director of Nursing, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Executive before leaving the NHS to found her company. She holds a BSC in Professional Issues within Healthcare.
Here she gives a personal and very honest view of her experience of moving from the public to the private sector. 
When I left the NHS in 2003 it was like taking off a pair of well loved, comfortable but now outdated shoes, I had spent the preceding 12 months wrestling with paperwork and producing lists for different groups of Inspectors  from various monitoring groups with challenging initials  from CHI, SSI, Peat.  
All this was seemingly replication, “bean counting” and measuring activity”! The problem was that very little activity got done in the hospital as a lot of manpower was taken up in evidencing and measuring what we were supposed to be doing!
I was relieved to leave what had begun to feel like a very round and black hole with me becoming “square peggish” by the hour!
The NHS I discovered upon leaving had many faults shared undoubtedly with other Public Sector services, my top three being :
1)      Meetings to discuss meetings and plans which invariably did not happen, as one CEO announced, “good ideas in the public sector were lured into a cul- de- sac and murdered by committee with regularity.”
2)      A nodding relationship with budgets, but very little accountability applied in day to day working. Teams hired at will, staff and equipment were replaced as required and generally little care was taken of existing equipment so front of house was invariably tatty.
3)      An attitude of “20 minutes to hire – 20 years to fire” prevailed so poor performers were accepted as part of the system. HR depts. were in general reluctant to tackle, or be particularly innovative in managing out, poor performers, preferring to focus on award ceremonies and the more pleasant face of personnel (slyly renamed as organisational development during the 90’s) which ensured union co-operation and generally a quiet life all round.
So it was somewhat of a shock to enter the private sector of healthcare in 2007 and find another universe existed providing similar services but in a completely different way.
1)      Meetings, if they happened, there had to be a proven cost benefit attached and increasing profit line improvements was generally the end point of any meeting.
2)      Your annual budget was a possession prized above rubies and meeting that  annual target meant leaving no stone unturned, focussing on finding better efficiencies , analysing costs in detail for every area of spend. The skills of a hostage negotiator combined with sniper were expected in managing the team and woe betide anyone not appearing to give 100% to the company.
3)      HR if they existed were small and very rarely seen, therefore  limited organisational development existed and the key function was disciplinary advice which generally was of two preferred options 1) Suspend 2) Dismiss.
Unions were not tolerated, nor were special circumstances and personal development was for sissies!
Ok I accept I have painted a colourful and exaggerated picture of both sectors but there is a foundation of truth in both scenarios and also clear benefits for working in the Public and Private sectors.
If you prefer autonomy with challenge and a fast pace at work and feel comfortable developing commercial awareness then the private sector is a better match, plus it may suit anyone with an entrepreneurial streak.
  • Decisions are taken quickly, flair and hard work can be rewarded financially and responsibility is given willingly.
  • What you won’t have  is the camaraderie that the public sector provides and almost definitely less personal development and training opportunities.
  • Coaching and Mentoring are rare but they are a personal investment worth considering to keep yourself supported whilst working in a demanding environment.
If you prefer a work environment with more structure and more agreement, consensus and team work then the public sector is a better fit. 
The NHS and other public bodies are generally more supportive to work for, more fair with established policies and procedures and transparent systems. You are also working with professionals and established clinicians in most cases.
What you won’t have, generally in the public sector, is the delegated responsibility!  Although this is changing with far more emphasis is on budgetary control and analysis, as Trust’s move towards Foundation status.
Anyone moving into the private sector needs 3 essential skills:
1)      The ability to work to strict and unrelenting deadlines and there is less ability to get team support, so ensure that you are resourced from the “get go”.
2)      Develop Commercial Intelligence, who are your competitors and what differentiates them from your company, understand sales and marketing techniques quickly and what works in your respective areas.
3)      Develop and maintain exemplary Customer Care, it’s central to everything you do and will soon affect your performance as complaints about care delivery are taken very seriously and, rightly so, reflect on the team as a whole.
There is potential to be very successful by making a strong combination – marrying some of the great skills inherent in public sector staff, such as their recent clinical knowledge and better team working skills, with the private health sector’s pace
If anyone wants further help in making this transition:
Contact me on cathe@theresultsco.com    
Cathe Gaskell is Managing Director of The Result’s Company – “extracting the best from your business” is what The Results Company does for businesses involved in Health.  She works to improve the quality of service within healthcare through operational management, lean thinking and essentially making things work smarter not harder.  She believes profit line improvements will be guaranteed if your customer care and the way you treat your staff within health care is outstanding.