6 management tips for physician leaders

There is a shortage of leaders in healthcare, and in particular, a shortage of physicians in leadership teams, said Bhagwan Satiani, MD, MBA, professor of clinical surgery, division of vascular diseases and surgery, department of surgery as well as director of the FAME Faculty Leadership Institute and medical director of vascular labs at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

At the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting in Chicago, May 7 to 9, Dr. Satiani said that currently most physician leaders are "accidental leaders" — they haven't been properly trained as yet. Physicians want to be a part of strategy and influence healthcare, and many physicians think that a master's in business administration degree is enough. But healthcare leaders need training that is different from what is provided in a typical MBA track.

"Their clinician training needs to be combined with business acumen," said Dr. Satiani. "Leaders today need to think about disruption, constrained funding as well as focus on population health."

Here are six best tips for physician leaders:

1. Exhibit integrity/credibility. It is easy to lose the respect of your team if you don't show them that you have integrity, according to Dr. Satiani. Even if you have a great vision, it won't matter until they buy into you first and this involves self awareness. How a leader communicates and is perceived is important. "A lot of leaders I see never reveal themselves or their ideals," he said. "A leader's motives have to be transparent and a leader must do as he says. Don't say something if you don't mean it."

2. Share your work. Physicians often stay in their own silos and they hang on to their work. Physicians and researchers suffer from a lack of sharing. But they must be encouraged to share and learn more, noted Dr. Satiani.

3. Learn to deal with ambiguity. Leading through uncertainty is a necessary aspect of leadership in the healthcare space. "Change your thinking and share what you know," said Dr. Satiani. "Also say what you don't know. Ask for input and stay engaged."
4. Start with the end first. Have a blueprint and begin each day with a clear vision of how it will end.

5. Diversify teams. Diverse teams create diversity of thought. The way of thinking and approach to problems is different in different parts of the world. Seek advice from these diverse members, said Dr. Satiani.  

6. Learn the art of compromise. Healthcare leaders often have trouble with this, said Dr. Satiani. But this doesn't mean that leaders have to sacrifice their principles.

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