Seven Traits of Great Healthcare Leaders

Seven Traits of Great Healthcare Leaders

Leaders in every organization share some basic issues. But in healthcare, there is a particular combination of dynamics that prove a significant challenge. The reason is the history of the sector. From a collection of essentially cottage entities to a growing industry facing price, quality, and regulatory pressures, healthcare providers have a number of issues in common. To face them and succeed, great healthcare leaders need to exhibit the following traits.


Perhaps the most predominant issue facing the industry is the rapid pace of change. The only way to ultimately adapt is to innovate. Healthcare companies that want to hold to old practices set themselves up to fail. Innovation has to start at the top with leaders who then create the atmosphere that enables everyone else to innovate.

Find the right leadership model

There have been many theories of leadership over the years. Over time, understanding of the topic has progressed through experience and study. In healthcare, leaders need to find the models that work best for their organizations and industry.

Focus on culture

Change is difficult to achieve in an organization. It requires a shift in culture, which tends to be resistant to modification. Encouraging the necessary cultural changes will be a major undertaking.

Bring experts into the process

Leaders have to avoid the inclination to be seen as the leader. Healthcare is dependent on a host of medical professionals – doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and technicians – whose training is typically long and arduous and expertise significant. Normally it is dangerous for executives to run businesses without listening to employees who actually perform the work, as they often will have better insight into what is right or wrong about operations. Skip over medical experts, and it’s potentially life-or-death. In addition, many professionals have well-developed egos that don’t react well to being ignored.

Make data available

Businesses need clear penetrating information for smart decisions. That means not only understanding the need to make data a central part of decision-making, but the ability to develop meaningful metrics. What will be important is the understanding not just that data is necessary, but grasping what the right data might be.

Emphasize accountability

Accountability is critical for healthcare organizations to move forward. Beyond demanding accountability from staff, leaders must insist on being accountable themselves. Nothing else can drive improved performance and trust over the long run.

Address leadership succession

With increased aging of the workforce and greater numbers of people entering retirement, talent management and development of a complete succession strategy is necessary at any healthcare organization. Future leaders must be found and developed from within for every level. Leaders have to move their organizations to recognize, develop, attract, and retain talent of all types.

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.