Leadership Strategies for Health Administrators
Health care administrators can use several methods to enfranchise staff members, retain talent and generate profits. The medical environment is dynamic and fast-paced, a setting which requires leadership styles suited specifically for caregiving environments. Each employee has important contributions to offer, and administrators can encourage these contributions by exercising organizational transparency while promoting employee feedback.
The Health Care Environment Whirlwind
In Peter Segall’s HealthcareSource blog post, the writer pens his thoughts on management strategies in contemporary medical settings.  He reports that the field evolves continuously as researchers find new and better methods to heal patients. Abdulaziz Al-Sawai’s journal entry in the Oman Medical Journal expresses that it is administrators who lead staff members through these transitions.  According to Al-Sawai, many leadership theories abound in caregiving settings, but the strategists that develop them typically have non-medical backgrounds. Instead, health care leaders traditionally adopt management practices from the business world, and there is little proof that these methods improve patient outcomes. Yet, health care executives use these philosophies regularly in the health care field.
Utilizing Health Care-centered Objectives
Segall suggests that health care-specific leadership practices are eclipsing traditional business management styles in caregiving institutions.  Rather than focusing solely on performance metrics, modern medical executives now view their roles from a vantage point that specifically considers needs unique to patient care. These needs may include multidisciplinary patient care coordination and efficient resource distribution. Additionally, administrators manage executive concerns such as staff member and community wellness. This responsibility does not rest solely on management, as medical personnel should also actively pursue maximum performance. Incidentally, these same staff members should help ignite change whenever possible.
Encouraging Staff Member Participation
Segall’s article also reports that only 40 percent of most health care employees actively participate in workplace decision-making.  The author cites that aversion to change often causes the other 60 percent of the staff’s enthusiasm to wane. These conflicts can cause several negative operational outcomes in areas such as:
- Effective communication
- Employee stress
- Human capital
- Patient outcomes
As a solution, the author suggests increased direct leadership from company executives; when upper-management openly expresses support for new policies, staff members are more likely to accept them. In a Hospitals and Health Networks article, writer Dan Beckham recommends that executive managers succinctly and clearly define new objectives, outline a plan to meet those goals and assign tasks to specific individuals.  After doing this, the author states that it is important to consistently evaluate and adjust these efforts to make sure that the organization is moving towards the desired goals.
Keeping the Plan Moving Forward
Al-Sawai’s article points out that health care organizations employ numerous specialists in completely unrelated disciplines, and these labyrinth-like specialist pools each have their own interests.  Unsurprisingly, these departments may not always find consensus. Effective managers view conflict as a growth opportunity. When disputes occur, it is the health care executive’s duty to resolve these matters and lead all parties towards a common objective. Knowing the right leadership style for these situations can determine whether an administrator succeeds or fails.
According to Beckham, it is possible that certain staff members will meet change initiatives with resolute opposition.  When this happens, health executives must make swift and firm decisions about those individuals’ futures with the institution. While it is important that staff members feel free to voice their opinions, it is more important to advance the organization. Duly, administrators must balance employee and company needs to find the best possible outcome for all interested parties.
Sharing the Leadership Role
In his report, Al-Sawai alludes to collaborative management as one effective management strategy.  The technique encompasses disseminating pertinent information to all interested parties and allowing them to make informed decisions. This transparency can improve communications among medical personnel, increase communal knowledge and reduce organizational bureaucracy. For this technique to work, the entire organization must participate. Executive level endorsement can encourage this positive behavior. Organizational cooperation creates morale and unity while producing better patient outcomes. This path to organizational cohesiveness begins with company heads and descends predictably through employee ranks.
Medical facilities can enjoy increased employee morale, human capital and earnings by using the appropriate management style. These methods may require frequent adjustments in the rapidly changing medical field. Additionally, health care administrators must recognize that caregiving environments do not conveniently follow standard business models and that staff members can provide significant contributions to an organization. By using these strategies, administrators can continually move an organization forward.
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- Segall, P. 6 Leadership Strategies for Navigating Change in Healthcare. HealthcareSource Blog [Web Page]. 2015. Available at: HealthcareSource. Accessed 2016.
- Al-Sawai, A. Leadership of Healthcare Professionals: Where Do We Stand? Oman Medical Journal. July 2013;28(4):285-287.
- Beckham, D. 10 Surprising Keys to Strategic Thinking for Health Care CEOs. Hospital and Health Networks Magazine. 2016. Available at: Hospitals and Health Networks Accessed 2016.