6 New Skills Required to Find Success as a Leader in Healthcare

Healthcare is a challenging, changing, and often tumultuous environment. Leaders must become resilient to navigate this work environment. Followers need leaders that are engaging, collaborative, visionary, transformational, and developers of people. These are not typical characteristics that emerging or experienced leaders have learned or naturally possess. Resilient leaders can withstand the challenges of the work environment, and often find inspiration and opportunity amid change and chaos. These leaders engage, recruit, and help retain staff as well – ensuring stability within an organization. The term SurTHRIVEleadership is coined from the knowledge that building resilience helps leaders go beyond survival and THRIVE amidst this new healthcare environment.

The Six Skills of SurTHRIVELeadership

1. Tested

Everyone experiences difficult times that test their character, beliefs, emotional endurance, and physical strength. One’s response to these situations shapes their ability to lead. Learning to re-frame difficult experiences into learning opportunities is the beginning of resilience. Some days we win, other days we learn. Building resilience requires taking time for self-reflection, goal setting, and accountability for one’s own actions. Leadership also requires us to develop others by helping them learn to navigate their challenges and learn from their experiences.

Tip: Consider a difficult situation you have encountered within the last month. What did you learn from it? How did your actions impact the situation? What will you do differently next time?

2. Hopeful

In the tumultuous environment of healthcare, finding hope can be a challenge for the most optimistic leader. Resilient leaders learn to rise above the daily challenges to cast a vision for a brighter future. Visionary leaders inspire and motivate their followers to engage in the work and live out their passion for care.

Leaders that lead with hope, generate a sense of positivity in their followers, helping employees understand the difference they make in the lives of those they care for. Hope also focuses the leader on the opportunities versus challenges of the work and cultivates an attitude of gratitude towards the circumstances of the day.

Tip: Start your day by listing seven things you are thankful for. Challenge yourself to find seven different things each day. Studies from Mayo Clinic demonstrate this simple daily activity can heighten one’s sense of well-being and increase positivity.1

3. Realistic

Authentic leadership entails the ability to recognize one’s strengths and weaknesses. Leaders often tend to focus on weaknesses much more than strengths. Your best opportunity for success is playing to your strengths! These make up your leadership DNA – strengths, experience, knowledge, education, and abilities – a key building block on the path to leadership excellence. Maximizing your leadership DNA is an essential component of building resilience, gaining confidence in your leadership role, and being a role model to others.

Tip: List three things you do well as a leader. How have you used them in your leadership role in the last week? How can you use them to overcome a current challenge?

4. Insight

Studies indicate the best leaders are not always those that are the smartest, but rather those demonstrating high levels of emotional intelligence. Have you ever said something you regretted? Most of us have. Emotionally intelligent leaders perform well under stress as they are masters of their emotions, and possess a keen sense of what others are thinking and feeling. Leaders that are in control of their emotions endear high levels of trust among their followers and resist the urge to be judgmental or make assumptions about situations before getting the facts. They are resilient in the face of conflict and setbacks.

Tip: The next time you feel stressed or find yourself in a challenging situation, try re-centering by inhaling deeply and slowly exhaling three times. This simple act can help bring more oxygen to the brain, mitigate the naturally occurring stress hormone response, and improve your critical thinking process.

5. Vigor

Physical, mental, and emotional health directly impact work performance and leadership capacity. Leaders must ensure time for themselves. Simple actions such as a break from your office to do something you love – listen to music, read, walk, meditate, etc., can have enormous mental and emotional benefits. Taking time away from work to refresh and re-center is essential.

Tip: Rather than using lunch to catch up on emails or calls, take thirty minutes to do something that re-energizes you. Studies indicate brain fatigue can impact decision-making ability over the course of the day.2 Taking a break re-energizes the brain and increases work productivity.

6. Excellence

Resilient leaders are focused and not distracted by the challenges of the day. They know their goals and work towards them. Their focus drives their motivation and shapes their path to excellence.

Tip: What is your professional goal? What did you do today towards achieving that goal?

  1. Sood, A. (2015). The Mayo clinic handbook for happiness: A four-step plan the for resilient living. Mayo Clinic
  2. Avnaim, L., Danziger, S. & Levav, J. (2011) Extraneous factors in judicial decisions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/108/17/6889