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?

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