What Makes a Great Physician Leader?
At the 19th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 25, Ben Brouhard, MD, senior vice president and senior search consultant for Cejka Executive Search, discussed what it takes for physicians to become great leaders today as more organizations look to them as exemplars of the entire healthcare profession.
Dr. Brouhard, who is a pediatric nephrologist and the former CMO and COO of MetroHealth in Cleveland, said there is a real demand right now for physicians to be leaders, especially within hospitals and ASCs. "There are new job descriptions and positions," Dr. Brouhard said. "And it doesn't make any difference if you're a CEO or someone in between. All of those people are leaders in some way or another, and they are trying to influence people to make a difference in an organization."
The traditional leader is seen as someone who is heroic, transactional, authoritarian and full of directives, Dr. Brouhard said. However, healthcare organizations want to find people who are "transformational," and these physicians must be visionary, relational, collaborative, persuasive, transparent and emotionally intelligent.
He also said successful physician leader behaviors encompass the following attributes: integrity, empathy, vision, good judgment, courage, understanding and passion. "Not all leaders are the same," Dr. Brouhard said. "But you need to have these things."
Good leaders should also keep a mindset of continuous improvement through persistent feedback, a leadership coach and remaining engaged with all staff members and other organizational leaders.
"If you want to improve your leadership skills, get feedback," Dr. Brouhard said. "Find out through a coach or mentor to give you some feedback and objective data. As the saying goes, 'It's lonely at the top. Take a friend.'"
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