Six Traits That Set Healthcare Leaders Ahead of the Pack

Six Traits Healthcare Executives Should Have

Running organizations is not a static thing. As conditions change, so do the needs in leadership. That’s particularly true in healthcare, where between changes in technology, finances, regulations, demographics, and public sentiment, what worked 20 years ago is, if not immediately doomed to failure, likely to fall short of what is needed.

Even today, there are providers that have overhauled their businesses to gain efficiencies, find new ways to approach existing markets, and to refine their strategies and missions under new leadership. To achieve that is a remarkable feat and, as Hospitals & Health Networks describes, it requires a certain set of techniques and characteristics to drive such change.

Change agents

Although 80 percent of hospital executives see that change management is critical – not surprising given the shifting demands and conditions – 41 percent say that skill in this area is lacking among top executives.

Data savvy

In disruptive times, it can become difficult to gain the insights that aid in making the right decisions. Healthcare executives must have the skills and willingness to embrace data analysis and integrate analytics and business intelligence into their tool belts.

Ability to work with clinical experts

Leadership in healthcare doesn’t necessarily mean that executives must be clinicians to be effective. In fact, leaders more likely need to be generalists who can see a bigger picture. However, an understanding of clinical needs and systems, and the ability to work closely with experts, is paramount. Furthermore, executives must develop clinical talent that can support strategic directions of the entire organization.

Financial and operational expertise

Some of the challenges facing healthcare are the need to provide better services and the pressure to control runaway costs. Effective executives will grasp the financial realities of reimbursement systems as well as understanding the mechanics of how people move through the care system and how providers interact.

Collaborative skills

Healthcare providers, particularly large integrated ones, must understand that solutions won’t come at single points in the system. Operational experts call that type of thinking suboptimization, because one part of an entity might see improved performance at the cost of greater overall inefficiency. Executives at all levels, including CEOs, will need to work together. In 2010, Scripps Health adopted a matrix management approach across 4 hospitals and 19 clinics. Within five years it had saved $350 million without layoffs.

Strategic vision and innovation

This may be the most important, and not in some consultant-talk kind of way. Healthcare is moving into uncharted waters and must find new ways to address problems. Those in charge will need to be innovative and encourage innovation in others. They will need strategic vision to plot a course where no one has been before.


Are you interested in finding a rewarding and lucrative healthcare career that fits your individual strengths and interests? Find out how education can help you adapt to the changing healthcare landscape. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of healthcare management degrees,  including an MBA Healthcare and Master of Science Business Intelligence and Analytics.

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