Senior Vice President, Senior Search Consultant
As the industry moves forward with reform measures, the question I often hear is: What does it take to be a great physician leader? Through observation, shared insights and my own evolution as a physician in clinical, teaching and academic health system leadership roles, the answer lies in the dynamics of change.
Increased Demand for Physician Executives
As health care reform progresses, change has been the constant state. Reimbursement based on quality and outcomes has changed the focus from volume to value; navigating that change requires deep engagement of physicians in the business of health care and is driving demand for physician leaders to fill C-Level positions. In fact, in a survey of C-Suite executives, 83 percent said they would be likely, very likely or extremely likely to add physicians to their management teams.
|Source: Envisioning the Future Leadership Team of an Accountable Care Organization, February 2011; American College of Physician Executives, Cejka Executive Search and BDC Advisors|
Transactional leaders, a common fixture of health care organizations of the past, run all the aspects of day-to-day business. They get patients in and out of the hospital, make sure doctors and staff are happy, and attend to matters that make the organization function. But today, it isn’t enough to run the business – leaders now must transform the business of health care.
Developing Transformational Leadership
Transformational leaders will guide their organizations through the changes required for success in a new era of value-based health care. Yet, health care institutions today place less emphasis on developing these leaders once they’re in place compared to many other types of businesses in the corporate world.
Throughout medical training (medical school, residency and fellowship) clinicians are taught a technical skill set – diagnostic skills, surgical skills, radiographic skills, and so on. But this expertise – while essential to the practice of medicine – does not roll over into leadership, which requires an entirely different set of behavioral characteristics. When people don’t do well in leadership positions, it’s not because they didn’t have the skills or technical ability. It’s because they didn’t demonstrate behavioral skills required to influence people to do what the organization needed.
Essential Qualities of Tomorrow’s Leaders
There is no standard approach to health care leadership. All leaders must develop their own authenticity with their individual strengths and weaknesses to manage their organizations. But, there are common hallmarks of successful leaders; the position profiles and job descriptions of these leaders reflect this shift toward transformational leadership. Health care organizations now are looking for key characteristics in their C-Suite executives:
- Mentors – be a coach to the faculty and staff physicians to help them achieve a higher level of emotional intelligence.
- Visionaries – envision the organization in five years, ten years and beyond.
- Collaborators – build key relationships with stakeholders, including employees, hospitals and the community at large.
- Advocates – be enthusiastic and excited about the job and the direction of the organization.
Ultimately, leadership is a process that requires personal reflection, mentoring (both giving and receiving) and objective feedback. Leadership is an evolution – as health care continues to change, so will successful leaders.
About Ben H. Brouhard, MD
Dr. Ben H. Brouhard, Senior Vice President and Senior Search Consultant, joined Cejka Executive Search in 2012 and is passionate about the development of physician leaders and participation and direction of search committees. He is the former Executive Director of Women’s and Children’s Service Line and Associate Chief Medical Officer for Education at MetroHealth Medical Center. During his 15-year tenure, Dr. Brouhard was among MetroHealth’s top physician leaders with oversight for operational, clinical and academic areas, including as Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs. He previously served nearly ten years with the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Texas Medical Branch, respectively.
For more information on the essential qualities of physician leaders in today’s health care reality, contact Dr. Brouhard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 209-8143.