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Healthcare leaders today face a multitude of distinctive challenges, such as evolving reimbursement models and regulatory requirements, staffing shortages, and technological advancements– just to name a few. In addition, healthcare leaders must overcome these challenges while also providing a positive impact on patients, staff, and the organization’s objectives.

The challenge of how to be an effective leader in healthcare can be demanding, and a strong healthcare leadership skillset is required to successfully navigate these complexities. It is essential that leaders understand and practice the indispensable skills necessary to foster a culture of compassion.

Strategies to Foster a Culture of Compassion

Healthcare is a highly respected field, filled with talented and skilled professionals. However, effective leadership requires a set of skills and competencies that are not often provided in the medical training process. Leaders cannot rely solely on their functional skills to be effective. They must also develop additional abilities in order to lead themselves, their teams, and the healthcare organization. Therefore, it is essential to provide formal learning and development opportunities to healthcare leaders who are responsible for guiding their teams. Leaders can begin by creating a foundation of compassion within the stressful environment they and their team members work in.

Compassion requires connection and action:

  • Understanding and emotional connection for another person’s concerns, and
  • The willingness to take appropriate action to alleviate those pain points for team members

In today’s hectic and stressful healthcare environment of competing priorities and busy schedules, it is all too easy to lose sight of what really matters– our human capacity for compassion. Any lack of compassion is felt not only by staff but also by the patients such leaders serve. Studies have indicated more training focused on compassion is required for healthcare leaders, and other surveys have also shown that almost half of Americans believe healthcare providers are not compassionate.

CMOE’s Medical Leadership program is designed to help individuals cultivate a compassionate approach through developing and demonstrating the essential skills that put people first: empathy, active listening, and coaching for growth.

Demonstrate Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share in the feelings another person is experiencing.
Every leadership role in healthcare requires a degree of empathy and understanding. Studies cite “interpersonal and external connection skills” as some of the most important leadership factors among hospital leaders.

By their very nature, healthcare settings encompass a wide range of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and personality styles. Creating an inclusive and supportive culture where everyone is valued and unique perspectives are leveraged requires empathy.

Leaders can build their ability to be an empathic leader by purposefully putting themselves in their team members’ shoes and taking the time to imagine how they would feel in that situation. Leaders should focus on the emotional experiences and perspectives of others without interrupting or judging.

Practice Active Listening

Active listening is essential to building strong interpersonal relationships between leaders, their team members, and patients.

Healthcare leaders should take the time to:

  • Listen attentively to their team member’s needs and concerns. Use nonverbal cues such as nodding, open body language, and eye contact. Ask follow-up questions for clarification. Paraphrase back what you’ve understood their message to be in order to verify accurate understanding.
  • Acknowledge the other person’s emotions and experiences. Acknowledgement and validation is the act of recognizing another person’s feelings, thoughts, or experiences as legitimate and worthy of acknowledgment. You do not need to agree with someone to acknowledge or validate their perspective. Acknowledgement and validation is about communicating respect, as opposed to a dismissive attitude that conveys indifference, rejection, or contempt.

Coach for Growth

A primary role of a healthcare leader is to be a people builder. To do this, leaders should set aside time to connect with their team members on a deeper level. Use this time to learn about their strengths, development interests, and career aspirations. Conduct regular development planning discussions with team members to ensure they are fully prepared for their roles and responsibilities.

Ask specific questions to identify areas for development. By doing so, you can help guide and enhance each team member’s career path. This personalized, strengths-based coaching approach will not only increase their effectiveness, but also lead to a more fulfilling work experience for everyone. The sense of fulfillment you both feel will positively impact the team and improve the quality of patient care provided.

Importance of Effective Leadership in the Healthcare Sector

Pursuing personal development needs while also simultaneously delivering a positive patient experience is no easy task, especially given the time and budgetary constraints most healthcare leaders operate under.

It is imperative to close this gap and create impactful leadership experiences in the healthcare sector. Medical leaders need practical training programs that build essential skills, provide guiding frameworks, and offer application toolkits to drive effective leadership.

Acquire Tangible Solutions for Your Healthcare Challenges

CMOE’s Medical Leadership Training program is backed by a team of professionals who have experience working with a variety of healthcare institutions and providers. Our learning programs can be tailored and customized to ensure they align with your mission, values, and culture. The program is designed to develop the specific leadership competencies that will support the growth and success of your healthcare organization.

We encourage you to learn about our program and how it can improve the value of the care you offer your patients and staff.

About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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