Chuck Lauer: What New Healthcare Leaders Should Know

What an honor it would be to speak to a graduating class of healthcare management students and talk about the realities of our work. I would itemize all the skills I think they need to practice in this challenging world. My points, listed below, are pretty basic but could be vital to the success of their careers.

1. Be enthusiastic. I would start off by emphasizing how important it is to be enthusiastic about what you do. There is no greater calling than to help others live healthier and more fulfilling lives. In essence, that is what a meaningful healthcare career is all about. While different people have different ways of showing enthusiasm, they will share the common thread of dedication, thoroughness and loyalty to the mission of the hospital.


2. Take nothing for granted. This warning should be heeded in all echelons of the healthcare profession. True professionals will never be too busy or too tired to check on a system or a patient. You need to take time to make sure everything is in order. If you don't, a patient might die and that would be the greatest sin of all.


3. Be totally engaged. Hold yourself accountable and make sure those around you understand what you are talking about. As a healthcare professional, you should be totally engaged every day with your colleagues. They expect it of you and you expect it of them.


4. Learn to present. Know how to put together a report or outline or even a full-blown presentation that gives you the opportunity to sell a concept to your peers. Don't be shy about presenting your ideas!


5. Learn to write. A critical part of presenting is the ability to write down your thoughts on paper for others to read. Sure, the e-mail way may come in handy occasionally, but putting thoughts down on paper has an even bigger impact on others.


6. Have courage. Stand by your principles and don't let others sway you to their way of thinking. That doesn't mean you act in a stubborn fashion. It simply means adhering to your own set of standards.


7. Have good manners. Show respect for everyone you come into contact with. Everyone loves to be treated with dignity and respect. Patients cannot get enough of it.


8. Always be there. Always let people know where you are and where you will be. Don't disappear unexpectedly and leave others holding the bag. Be reliable, no matter what the circumstances, and be available when you are needed.


9. Know our organization. Read everything you can about your organization's history, mission and the people who preceded you and made the organization a success. Also read everything that you can about your industry and its future.


10. Listen to others. Learn to listen with your eyes, your ears and your mind. Listening is a powerful tool. Those do it more often than talking usually have greater success than people who spend their time talking. Listen to your bosses, listen to your peers and listen to patients.


11. Learn the art of selling yourself. As you go about your career, you must understand that unless you are willing to step forward, accept responsibility and make sure others see your commitment, whatever you accomplish may go unheeded. It is important that others recognize your abilities.


12. Allow dissent. If you get into a leadership position, do not be afraid to allow others to dissent from your opinions. Too many leaders have too many yes-men around them who care more about their own careers than they do about the success of the organization. Don't be afraid to hear other ideas and objections. It shows maturity on your part.


13. Keep your promises. When you promise anything, always make sure you fulfill it. Keeping promises is a matter of character and integrity.


14. Open your heart. Always—but always—be willing to open your heart and mind to others. Be willing to give a helping hand to a colleague or peer or someone of lesser station in your organization. It's the mark of a true leader!


15. Reach your own judgments on others. Don't listen to ugly rumors or hearsay about another person. March to your own drummer when judging others.


16. Be true to yourself. Finally, always be loyal and true to yourself and your organization. Give every day 100 percent, and then some. Don't be afraid to dream your dreams and, better still, to make those dreams come true. Without dreams, life wouldn't be much fun!


Chuck Lauer ( was publisher of Modern Healthcare for 33 years. He is now an author, public speaker and career coach who is in demand for his motivational messages to top companies nationwide.



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