In today’s world, as we are going through changing and possibly challenging times, I believe there are three skills that you as a physician leader need to have. We all know that across all industries, especially healthcare industries are dealing with rapid change—structural change within their organizations, personnel change within the workforce, and strategical change within leadership. And with change comes the ability and the skillset to be able to successfully adjust to that change and help others with the transition alongside you.
The first skill that all leaders should have, and should master, is the art of listening. When we think about listening as a skill, we tend to oversimplify it and think of it as something we do every day and that should be expected of someone in a leadership position. But, in truth, there is an art and a skill to effective listening—listening to encourage growth within your team, listening to drive the development of the next generation of leaders.
To master this art, you must listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to respond or immediately solve the problem. When you’re engaged in conversation with someone, it’s important that you have clarity in what the other person is telling you. You want to make sure that you are fully understanding what the ask may be or what they are communicating. You also want to make sure that you're being an active listener. This includes maintaining good eye contact, having appropriate body language, minimizing distractions, and being fully being present. That's what we're really aiming for-being present while you're listening.
The second skill that’s critical to possess during changing times is the ability to ask the right questions. In many cases, this skill piggybacks off number one. If you're listening for understanding and clarity, then you’ll be able to respond more appropriately and ask the right questions when a concern arises. And when you ask the right questions, you're obtaining more information, you're getting more transparency, and you are better able to deliver constructive solutions or results. Thus, for your team to succeed and grow, you must ask the right questions. And sometimes asking the right questions means digging a little deep and going below the surface.
The third and last skill that leaders should have is preparedness. This means being prepared themselves—for meetings, for their day, having a schedule and prioritizing—but also, as a leader, helping your team to be prepared as well. In other words, what resources does your team need in order to be successful? What advice or training can you offer your team to help them succeed? How can you best prepare them? Perhaps it's bringing in someone from an outside organization to coach them or teach them a certain skill. Maybe it's providing them with a physical resource that they need to thrive.
Active listening, asking the right questions, and being prepared—these are the three skills that make effective leaders in the face of change.
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