7 Characteristics of a Successful Healthcare Leader


radiologist looking at spinal imageThere are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the transition to value-based care. But there’s no denying that the transition period is raising stress levels across the health system, and in the radiology department in particular.

These changing times require a different set of leadership skills–some would say a new type of leadership–to transition the traditional imaging department. These skills are necessary for creating a more integrated, more collaborative health system.

Here are seven characteristics of the new breed of healthcare IT leader.

1. A Lifelong Learner
It sounds redundant, but to be a successful healthcare IT leader, it helps to have leadership training. Too often, radiologists are promoted to a leadership role, only to find that their skills and clinical experience have not prepared them to manage a team.

Management and leadership skills are their own discipline, distinct from any other job function. To effectively run the department, healthcare IT leaders should commit to lifelong learning and development of these skills.

2. Committed to Communication
Nothing can drive morale and effectiveness down faster than uncommunicative management. Communication and collaboration are crucial for the success of a value-based health system; it’s important for leadership to model transparent, honest dialog. Communicate with your team to unite them to face challenges, overcome obstacles, and continue to improve.

3. A Strategic Delegator
Effective leaders must be protective of their time. The ability to recognize which tasks don’t require your hands-on attention is an important trait to develop. More importantly, the ability to follow through with delegating — to truly let a task go and focus on what requires your attention — is even harder to develop and even more important. Surround yourself with competent people whom you can trust, and let them handle tasks that might fill up the time you need to lead.

4. A Grateful Cheerleader
It’s important to not take for granted the hard work radiologists and the staff in the imaging department do every day. Sincere gratitude and empathy can help keep morale up and inspire dedication. In addition to day-to-day recognition, it’s important to single out exceptional work for praise. Leading by example will encourage your team to lift each other up as well.

5. A Humble Listener
Those newly promoted to a leadership role often make the mistake of taking an authoritarian approach. They believe that entertaining other people’s viewpoints might be seen as a sign of weakness that could undermine their authority. But that style of leadership is rapidly going extinct, for good reason. No one has all the answers, and to arrive at the best outcome for patients and physicians alike, there needs to be a healthy exchange of ideas. And that includes admitting gaps in knowledge and seeking out advice.

6. A Dedicated Peacekeeper
A good healthcare IT leader can help moderate internal disputes between physicians, helping to resolve conflict peacefully. The other side of being a peacekeeper, though, is identifying and removing those who perpetually disturb the peace. It’s important for your team to know they can trust you to get rid of threats to the team’s integrity.

7. A Healthy Motivator
The easiest way to motivate people to exceed goals is to inspire competition. There are some times, though, when competition is adverse to the health of the organization. What makes sense for a sales team doesn’t work for radiology — competitive behavior is irrelevant to patient outcomes, and might even work against the best outcome. So it’s important for a healthcare IT leader to not rely heavily on the competitive urge, but to appeal to the team’s capacity to compromise, communicate, and collaborate.

Radiology departments are at the center of value-based care initiatives, tasked with increasing transparency, improving efficiency, and proving value. Your department needs strong leadership to achieve these goals — leadership willing to model the qualities that make for a successful department.

Conserus Workflow Intelligence can be an invaluable ally for healthcare IT leaders. The software can help your team communicate more effectively, work more efficiently, and coordinate care across the health system and beyond.

To learn more about radiology’s expanding role in the health system, download our new eBook, Beyond Imaging: Key Components for a Holistic Enterprise Imaging Strategy.

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