While the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a heavy burden on the healthcare field, it has also emphasized the necessity of great leadership qualities in staff members. Leadership in the healthcare field is a vital component of providing quality care under these high-stress situations.

Leadership in this sector consists of more than just giving direct orders and unrealistic goals; the primary aim of developing leadership skills should be to exceed expectations, form cohesive groups, and earn the respect of fellow staff members. Abeo’s “7 Ways to Be a Better Healthcare Leader” breaks leadership down into seven more specific, obtainable tasks.

The initial step to initiate leadership is to facilitate open communication throughout the team; this should empower and engage other members in the tasks at hand by encouraging collaboration. In addition, the leader should make sure to exhibit the appropriate initiatives and actions as an example to those around them. He or she should also maintain an open relationship of dialog and feedback to ensure a workplace environment of creativity and empowerment. The leader should make an effort to recognize not only the work of the team but also the individual contributions toward the goal. Building relationships with individuals can make all members feel valued and more willing to contribute. It is vital, to be frank with team members about failures and shortcomings in order to address and solve problems before they escalate further. 

However, it is also critical to acknowledge and reward good work; this makes occasional negative feedback less harsh. Though all of these components are important to monitor and encourage, it is also key to allow team members enough freedom to attempt new skills and grow creatively. By following these recommendations, the sector should experience an efficient, effective, and high-performing environment.

When recruiting or developing new leaders in the healthcare field, it is beneficial to consider the following skills: empathy, communication, strategic decision-making, self-awareness, and customer-first orientation. Empathy allows leaders to build positive relationships and provide more meaningful motivators for team members. The addition of appropriate communication methods can deescalate problems more efficiently and promote empathy between team members and customers. Decision-making ability is vital in the healthcare field because of its high-consequence nature; leaders must be able to quickly weigh the outcomes of all decisions, develop a solution, and communicate this clearly to other members. Leaders must also be self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses to continuously learn, as well as select appropriate successors. By remaining customer-first oriented, healthcare leaders encourage team members to consider alternative perspectives and address potential complications; this ensures a more positive relationship between patient and provider as well as between coworkers. These competencies must all be demonstrated under pressure, so it is pertinent to try to identify and expand them constantly. An emphasis on these abilities provides a common platform to base levels of accountability as well as identify future leaders; these skills are an excellent focus for recruitment and growth.

It is abundantly apparent that true leadership is vital to the success of the healthcare industry. A high number of leaders present in the environment correlates with significant improvements in innovation, quality, and productivity, as well as an increase in worker morale. However, not all individuals are outstanding leaders, so it is essential for management to facilitate leadership growth, particularly in four specific areas. Leaders should envision a future that contains a positive work environment; they should understand what their desired vision is and share it with the team to provide direction and specific goals. Healthcare is a constantly changing field, and leaders must be able to adapt and innovate in a way to address these shifts. Meeting the challenges of a fluctuating environment involves ideal communication skills and a flexible yet organized method of planning. To address changes, leaders must be able to form effective teams that consist of individuals that complement each ability; these team members must be able to communicate and collaborate to address newfound or potential complications. In addition, leaders should form positive work cultures that promote outstanding patient care, safety, responsibility, and ethical behavior; they should exhibit all of these standards themselves and remain accountable for their own actions. True leaders should model all of these standards to encourage them in team members.

The organization is crucial to promoting leadership within its members. Leadership is vital to success; therefore, it must be a primary focus of management. Leadership abilities are flexible and can be learned and improved; however, there must be an intentional effort to do so. Healthcare will only become more complex and develop more complicated problems, so there must be individuals who can lead teams toward solutions. Leadership skills of communication, delegation, commitment, and engagement should be present and developed in all individuals to promote growth and efficiency of the field. Leadership itself is the result of habits that develop into skill acquirement- these habits must be encouraged. By prioritizing leadership growth, the healthcare sector may experience greater unity, a significant growth mindset, and high-quality work that saves even more lives.

Anthony Kopiecki