Developing Your Healthcare Leadership Skills

Developing Your Healthcare Leadership Skills


While many businesses are constantly juggling numerous balls, for most, their daily workload is busy, but not perilously so. Healthcare, however, is often cited as having one of the highest rates of burnout and stress of all industries. So, how does a healthcare company stay on a positive, successful track? The answer lies in the skills of their leadership.

Recently, I did some research to see what traits were most recommended for healthcare leaders. The common traits proposed by numerous authors include:

  • Have a clear vision
  • Stay engaged
  • Stay Positive
  • Recognize that healthcare is a business
  • Know how to influence people
  • Lead by example
  • Hire good people
  • Be flexible/embrace change

All of these traits can be applied to ANY leader in ANY type of business, so what makes healthcare leaders different? Why are these traits extra important for people in healthcare leadership roles whether they run a small practice or a large healthcare company – because of the complexity of services they provide.

While many of us experience difficult days, few of us are faced with true life-or-death situations. Healthcare professionals, however, face life or death situations most every day, and managing staff and patients through that kind of stress requires leadership with the highest levels of competency. For healthcare agencies, such as Kindred Healthcare, that focus in providing care to acutely ill patients, the stressors are magnified.

So, how does a leader in healthcare, or any business for that matter, start developing the traits and skills that can keep him/her poised while maintaining a reliable, solid ground for the people they lead and serve?

  1. Know yourself. Whether through coaching, counseling, or various assessments, get to the heart of what makes you tick. Understanding your motivators, communication style, skills and behaviors will help you in all areas of your professional and personal life.
  2. Continually educate and improve yourself. To do this requires a mind that is open to new ideas, other opinions, and change. Attend workshops, read informative books and articles, and engage in open dialogues that encourage new ideas.
  3. Set goals and consistently strive to achieve them. Goal setting is often suggested and often overlooked as a key indicator of success but if you don’t know where you want to go, you aren’t likely to go anywhere.
  4. Do things that are good for you. When you are tired, sleep. When you are weak, exercise. When you are hungry, eat, and when you’re full, stop. The more you force yourself to do things that are bad for you, the more stress you create and the less effective you are.
  5. There are numerous ways to relieve stress, but one of the easiest and most beneficial is to simply breathe. Deep breathing initiates the relaxation response and calms us down. The best part – it’s free and you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Regardless of the stressors you face, as a leader people look to you to set the example of how to act, interact, react, and perform. Think of yourself as the “Lead Caregiver” and take the necessary steps to ensure you are strong and healthy so you can lead your team effectively.


Karen Nutter is an Executive and Lifestyle Skills coach based out of Jacksonville, Florida. For more information about her coaching, training, or workshop services, please contact us directly.