10 Characteristics of Physician Leaders

It is a phrase heard often in healthcare: Excellent clinical skills don't equate to excellent performance in leadership and management. In a landscape that increasingly needs physician leaders, health systems are remiss if they assume that the clinical training physicians receive is enough to make them successful in leadership roles, such as medical directorships.

North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y., is one health system that has recognized this, and is doing something about it. Its Physician Leadership Institute is home to a handful of programs aimed and developing management skills for its roughly 9,000 physicians. One of those programs specifically targets future physician leaders, who are selected to participate based on their potential for success in physician leadership roles. North Shore-LIJ's Physician High-Potential Program included 50 physicians in 2013, said Patti Adelman, director of the Institute, at the National Center for Healthcare Leadership's 2013 Human Capital Investment Conference in Chicago.

At the event, Lawrence G. Smith, MD, executive vice president and physician in chief, and dean of the School of Medicine at North Shore-LIJ, shared 10 characteristics that the health system uses to select leaders for the program — and judge leadership potential.

1.    Collaborative and cooperative
2.    Strong listening skills
3.    Communication skills
4.    Self-confidence and mental resilience
5.    Humility
6.    Lack of arrogance
7.    Appreciative of others
8.    Mentoring
9.    Values life balance — "Real doctor, real person"
10.   Vision

A positive, can-do attitude is also a must-have for physician leaders. "People who never awaken happy in their life are very poor candidates for this type of program," said Dr. Smith.


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