What it Takes to Do the Healthcare Tango: The Manager's Challenge

The healthcare sector is one of the most dynamic of all industries. Because of the demand for optimum patient outcomes, and because it deals primarily with the preservation of human life; change is inevitable, fast and necessary.  Those responsible for change initiatives are healthcare leaders and managers. Numerous improvements and transformations have come about through keen leadership and the participation of healthcare staff. 


Management in healthcare is like learning to tango. If a leader does not follow the indicated steps, or is not in tune with the rhythm and sway of the music they can lose grace, trip or even fall. To be successful, he or she needs to be equipped appropriately and embody the qualities of an excellent healthcare leader.  

What Does it Take to Become an Exceptional Healthcare Executive?  

Change as we see it today is primarily driven by the complexities of managed care that grows more diverse year by year with the increasing demand for quality care. This fact necessitates focusing on healthcare executives who are tasked with successfully introducing and bringing about change, especially now that organizational transformation has created more diversity in leadership and management

Becoming a leader in healthcare is not for the faint of heart. The fast-paced life in this industry pushes leaders to be flexible to changing practices yet resilient to the challenges posed by transformation. To become an effective manager here are just some of the traits that are needed:

The Right Education, Training and Experience
Most leaders and managers are required to have a basic education in their field plus a master’s degree. Furthermore, leaders must be committed to professional development and continuing education. They achieve this by undergoing accreditation and training to enhance knowledge and managerial skills. Experience is important, too. Although practices and trends tend to change over time, experience allows leaders to master implementation skills.

Having the Right Attitude

To be effective leaders, managers should have the ability to establish and maintain an effective working relationship with patients, support personnel, other health professionals and employees. This means being able to smile, recognize people’s achievements, and work with grace under pressure. It is also important to have the ability to resolve conflicts within your organization.

Keeping Current With Trends, New Practices, Guidelines, and Research Outcomes

Remaining current is being on top of the line and on top of everything. It creates foresight which enables leaders to anticipate organizational needs and to recognize areas of improvement. To do this, having a medium for receiving new information, and having a platform for information dissemination are a necessity.

By staying current, not only do we mean being knowledgeable of research outcomes but also of employee progress regarding their assigned tasks. This allows a manager to be aware of the status of their department or organization with regards to the achievement of goals and objectives. 

Ability to Proactively Institute Change

Before change can be asked of employees, or implemented in services and processes, change must emanate from the leaders first. To achieve this, managers should keep an open mind to new developments while keeping a balance between evidence-based research and the uniqueness of their organizational needs. Managers should have clear understanding of how to institute changes, and have a clear picture of the expected outcome. They should be able to initiate and sustain the processes needed for accreditation and to practice lean and kaizen principles.

Excellent People and Communication Skills
Think back to the people you have worked with that were effective leaders, regardless of whether  they were managers. These types of people are usually distinguished because of the way they handle and mobilize people and their ability to effectively communicate with almost anyone regardless of role or title.

Great leaders achieve this primarily by obtaining feedback often and from many sources, so they understand who is working to get things done and who isn't. They quickly understand if a process or project is off track because the tasks that need to be accomplished are not progressing in a timely fashion. Closed-loop communication and feedback also leads to employee engagement because employees feel they have a voice in the development of processes, procedures and clinical standards which encourages teamwork and collaboration.

Continuous Training and Evaluating of Employees     
Implementing change includes continuous staff training on new policies, initiatives or procedures and following up that training with an evaluation to ensure the staff understands and can perform the procedure or task correctly.  

Effective Delegation

An exceptional leader doesn't try and do it all themselves, they delegate appropriately to ensure that the implementation of changes are progressing smoothly. Sometimes, this also means having the right perspective to understand when to obtain the services of outside resources who are more equipped to handle the job.

Promoting, Building and Sustaining a Culture of Collaboration and Teamwork

Finally, being able to influence the work culture is very important. Employee engagement relies not only on monetary compensation, but more so on how satisfied and happy employees are with a culture that is nurturing and collaborative and where recognition, respect and genuine desire to help abound. Fostering healthy work culture can be done by being self-aware of one’s leadership attitude and skills, and by being an epitome of positivity. Another way is having strict and specific policies on maintaining harmony.

The manager's challenge of implementing transformation and change in healthcare organizations is great. Without the leadership qualities we mentioned above, managing in healthcare is like asking a non-dancer to charm viewers with an intricate tango dance. It is difficult to feel confident without the right tool set and your dance moves would be inefficient and awkward to say the least. You might find yourself falling behind the tune of change instead of charming your way up to success. ManageUP recognizes the daunting task put on leaders to effect positive change. We have come up with bright solutions to make this happen. Contact us today, and let us know how we can help you.