How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Healthcare Setting

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How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Healthcare Setting

Originally published July 31, 2019. Updated on October 19, 2020.

Whether you are entering a position of leadership or are looking to further your proficiency, there are underlying characteristics that an efficient leader embodies.  As described in a white paper published by the Governance Institute, “It is the leaders who can together establish and promulgate the organization’s mission, vision, and goals. It is the leaders who can strategically plan for the provision of services, acquire and allocate resources, and set priorities for improved performance. And it is the leaders who establish the organization’s culture through their words, expectations for action, and behavior— a culture that values high-quality, safe patient care, responsible use of resources, community service, and ethical behavior; or a culture in which these goals are not valued.”

In an industry that is constantly evolving, these leadership skills remain essential. 

Consistent & Concise Communication

The backbone of your leadership skills will be your communication skills. The key to great communication is emotional intelligence. It will become imperative to be self-aware and self-regulating constantly. While participating in conversation, it is in your best interest to demonstrate active listening, a skill that pertains to your behavior in conversation. This skill impacts both you and the person you are conversing with. Active listening involves your undivided attention, in other words making your presence and mind available. This allows you to genuinely absorb the information being disclosed, further enabling you to articulate the best response.

“In some cases, listening is underrated, but a strong leader always recognizes the value of listening,” said Dennis Kain, senior vice president of Tyler & Company.  

Read, ‘6 Habits of Highly Successful Executives.’’

Another tactic is the use of body language. Making a point to utilize eye contact shows that you are locked into a conversation and reflect your attentiveness. Facing your partner in conversation while leaning in and nodding along allows the other person to feel understood.

Ability to Adapt & Pivot Quickly

Flexibility and adaptability are especially necessary in the healthcare setting. A person of leadership in this field should have a desire for life-long learning. Healthcare management will need to embrace the continuous changes of healthcare itself. This industry is continuously evolving, there is always disruption- but the key is can you sustain it?

Read, ‘5 Self Care Tips to Promote Work Life Balance.

Being able to lead under stressful situations and know what leadership style is optimal will make for a more successful outcome. Every call to action is circumstantial, and the ability to stay cool but not freeze will be how your capability is evaluated. How one reacts when things aren’t going as planned is the deciding factor of if they are a “good” or “bad” leader.

Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch once said, “We must be visionaries. Everyone can see a train coming right at you, but we have to be able to see around the corner. In healthcare, we need to be able to move the organization where healthcare will be in a few years, not where it is now.” 

Being able to adapt not only to healthcare industry changes but also your leadership style circumstantially is an exceptional skill.

Capacity to Foster Meaningful Relationships

Leaders that go from good to great start not with where, but with who. Developing genuine relationships with your employees enables the organization to operate as a community. New professional relationships require a level of trust that must be cultivated first. You can demonstrate this trust by being transparent in your actions while also making sure your actions match your words. Show that you are reliable by doing your job well. Be a good team member; consistently pull your weight so that employees can effortlessly instill their trust in you.

It is critical to treat everyone you encounter with the utmost respect. Overreaction, breaking trust, and inconsistency can plummet a leader’s reputation. Don’t try to outsmart the people around you. Step back and let your employees shine. Viewing others as a threat is a toxic trait that will cause resentment — being collaborative and inclusive results in more success and contentment.

Admire the abilities and qualities of your employees. Appreciate their achievements and make a point to express your gratitude. Give as much as you want to get, and be as helpful to others as they are to you- it is a two-way street. When employees feel there is value in their work, it encourages positive behavior.

Plot Your Vision & Determine How to Implement It

When looking to advance your leadership skills in healthcare, first analyze your communication skills. Great communication is vital for a great leader. A person of leadership should be a continuous learner, as you will constantly be needing to adapt to the industry. Last but not least, developing genuine professional relationships is extremely important. Creating an environment built around human connection, flexibility, and communication will set you up to be the best leader you can be. By communicating well, listening intently, continually learning, being flexible, and committing to a vision, you can mold yourself into a valuable and respected healthcare leader.

Contact Tyler & Company to discuss how we can help your organization achieve operational efficiency by matching the best possible candidates for your unique executive and interim healthcare leadership needs.

Additional Resources


1. “What Makes A Leader Successful.” Tyler’s Tidbits, September 2012. Accessed July 16, 2019.