The healthcare system is rapidly changing and becoming more and more complex—and yet, the majority of the administrators and decision-makers are not the people who have the most influence in the lives of patients. They are not the people who have years of medical experience, who understand the challenges of caring for individuals, families, and communities. The current healthcare administration is comprised mostly of executives with no medical background. This often leads to hospitals and medical offices being managed with the primary objective to manage the bottom line. Physician leaders are essential to having a better healthcare system. Physician leaders know how to make communities healthy whilst being economical. Instead of being put in a box and limited to the singular role of seeing patients, physicians need to be encouraged to assume leadership roles such as medical director, chief medical officer, chief information officer, department chairs, and more.
Physician, or no physician, there are five universal ways that you can prepare yourself for a role in leadership. At any moment, you can be called to lead by someone who thinks you would be an excellent fit for the role. And if that moment comes or the opportunity presents itself, you want to be prepared to tackle that role.
The first way that you can prepare yourself for leadership is to volunteer. By volunteering for a meaningful organization, you can offer your expertise as well as gain experience that will not only do good for the organization but help you to grow as well. Your role as a volunteer will become a part of your experience that can be added to your CV—especially if you've had great accomplishments or results.
The second way that you can prepare yourself for leadership is to take a class. Ideally, you want to focus on what you think you could improve upon—for example, a skillset or some knowledge that you're lacking—to bridge the gap in your experience. Maybe you need to improve your computer skills. Maybe you need to find a more effective way of communicating. Maybe there's something in your industry that you don't quite understand that you know may benefit you if you learned more.
The third way that you can prepare yourself for leadership is to attend a conference. Conferences are an exceptional way to not only be around like-minded individuals who share similar visions and goals but also to network and learn new things. In healthcare, and every industry, the landscape is always evolving and it’s critical to keep up with the trends. Conferences are a great way for you to get out there, to meet other people, and to keep yourself up to date. You will be better equipped to take on a leadership role if you are familiar with the most recent developments in your particular industry. As an add-on, you can also gain continuing education credits.
The fourth way that you can prepare yourself for leadership is to actually lead a project. Perhaps there's an upcoming project in your workplace or a growing issue that management would like solved. If possible, try to take the lead on that project. This will not only give you experience, but it will give your colleagues a chance to see your leadership skills first-hand. Or better yet, if there isn't a project, create your own. Create a project that you think would benefit your organization, that would benefit your business, which would benefit the people that you serve. Start that project, and again, by simply leading the project (and more so by yielding great results) it will showcase your talent as a leader.
The fifth and last way that you can start to show up as a leader, is to simply seek out the role. Studies show that men will apply for leadership roles and positions where they may have only 50% of the qualifications, while women will wait until they have 100% of the qualifications before they apply. You don’t always have to have 100% of the qualifications to apply for a leadership role. You just have to have the basic education, some of the qualifications, the will to want to learn, confidence in yourself, and the ability to thrive in the role. As women, it’s especially critical to seek out leadership roles as we are underrepresented in this position. And if you don’t get accepted at first, keep trying—don’t get discouraged.
Ask yourself this question the next time you are thinking about pursuing a leadership role. "If not me, then who? If not now, then when?" The time is now for physicians to assume leadership roles to change the landscape of our healthcare industry.
If you are a physician ready to create change and be the respected voice in healthcare, or you represent an organization ready to create the next generation of leaders, connect with me here for a free strategy call to start your leadership journey today!