5 Steps to Discovering Your Healthcare Leadership DNA

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” –Aristotle

To know and lead others, one must start by knowing oneself – implying that all successful leaders must embrace a realistic portraiture of their leadership style including strengths, gaps, knowledge, and experience.

Beginning with an appreciative inquiry approach helps leaders see themselves and others from a strengths-based perspective. Ancient wisdom tells us to love others as we love ourselves. This simply means that one must be able to embrace their own unique leadership DNA and learn to build on it. By maximizing one’s innate talent, a leader can make an impact through positive, powerful contributions. A realistic leader knows the extent of their abilities and is aware of every resource available. They also know how to partner with others to bridge the gaps that exist in their strength profile.

1. Define What Leadership Is and Why It Matters

According to research, employees don’t leave their employer, they leave their supervisor.1 The working environment is key to employee satisfaction. It is critical to understand the differences between leadership and management, and why leadership is critical to employee satisfaction.

 Think: Consider the type of working environment your leadership style creates. How do people feel working in this environment? How could you help it become more resonant?

2. Find the Leader Within

There are various self-assessments that help identify strengths. Most leaders fall into one of the following categories – executor, influencer, relationship builder or strategic thinker. By identifying your strengths, you can identify key actions for maximizing them and learn to overcome gaps.

Think: What are your strengths? What energizes you? What do others say you do well? For more information on determining your personal strengths complete Clifton Strengths at https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/home.aspx.2

3. Know Which Leadership Style to Use When

Successful leaders use various leadership styles based on the situation and needs of the followers. The key to successful leadership is being adaptable and knowing which style to use when.

Think: What leadership style is most often used by you? Is it effective? Why or why not? Are there other leadership styles outside your norm for consideration in specific situations?


4. Use the Six Steps of Employee Engagement

It is important for leaders in management roles to know and understand how to manage people. The Six Steps of Employee Engagement provide a framework for managers to ensure they are ensuring that people do what they are supposed to do and have the resources and education to do them.

Think: How strong are your management skills? Do employees know what they are supposed to do and have the skills to do it? Do you know what employees are thinking? How do you make these happen?

5. Embrace Setbacks and Learn from Them

Leadership is not a path to perfection but rather a journey in the pursuit of excellence. Each challenge faced can be a setback or an opportunity for growth. Strong leaders have the ability to reframe challenges into stepping stones for success and articulate personal and professional goals that frame their leadership journey.

Think: What are your professional goals? Where do you see yourself in one, three, or five years? How will you get there? What are you doing now to achieve your goals?

Drive Staff Engagement and Improve Patient Care

Know the goal, find yourself, be cognizant of your style, understand what your employees value, and learn to love a challenge – these are the simple steps to building your own unique and effective brand of leadership. When enacted in a healthcare setting, powerful leadership DNA can change employee engagement and help to pass those improvements onto patient care.

  1. B. Wigert, Talent Walks: Why Your Best Employees Are Leaving.Gallup (2018). https://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/226025/talent-walks-why-best-employees-leaving.aspx
  2. Gallup (2018). Clifton strengths. Retrieved from https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/