10 months of hard work, twenty-four physicians had learned about leadership
styles, negotiation strategies, organizational dynamics, change management,
conflict resolution, and other useful topics.
can physician leaders learn from Bill Belichick’s “Do Your Job” Philosophy?)
group all agreed, though, that the most important lesson was that leadership
has little to do with knowledge or expertise. It is all about communication,
trust, and relationships – and it’s
hard. An experienced and thoughtful physician posed a question:
“We are SO good at communicating with
patients, quickly building trust, a connection, and a productive relationship –
but why is it so hard to do the same with colleagues or with staff and
executives when we are functioning as team members or leaders?”
acknowledged that learning these new skills had been uncomfortable, but
“How uncomfortable were
you, when you first had to start talking to patients?”
“How effective were
Was it hard?”
“How did you eventually
get better at it?”
paused, smiled and said “practice.” Medical students and residents are
motivated to get better at communicating with patients because it’s the foundation
of good care. They also have an immersive learning experience -forced to
face their discomfort and improve their skills, day after day, for years.
get better at it because they PRACTICE.
don’t leave residency as a finished product. A physician “practices” medicine,
for an entire career, including sharpening the skill of communicating with
communication skills you need as a leader are NOT the same as those you use
with patients. The relationship dynamics are different.
with a peer, motivating your staff, questioning an executive, providing
feedback to a colleague, trying to convince your department to change a policy,
or navigating a disagreement about the direction of your group – all require
communication skills never covered in training, or practiced, by most
we often throw physician into leadership roles and expect them to think
strategically, build relationships, and communicate effectively.
don’t take the “leadership course” and then you are an effective communicator.
It doesn’t work that way. You need to the apply those skills – practicing,
daily. Being uncomfortable, accepting that discomfort, and learning from it.
like the description by Marc Lesser in his book, Seven
Practices of Mindful Leaders:
There is “dedicated” practice – in Lesser’s example, meditation practice,
itself- and there is “integrated” practice where you take what you learn during
meditation and integrate it into everything you do – so that the work, itself,
same is true with leadership training (or any skill, for that matter).
The training is dedicated practice but then you have to commit to integrated
practice. It’s the reason that we always combine training, with individual
coaching, and work on real issues.
Your Own Physician Leadership Program – Lessons Learned)
each participant can improve his or her self-awareness and learn about what
they bring to each situation, then learn the communication skills in a group
setting, and apply them to real issues- they can learn, through this
“integrated practice.” Then they need to apply those skills and continue to
learn, daily. Yes – it takes work.
get better as a clinician through the lifelong PRACTICE of medicine. If
you are motivated to be an effective leader – because you care about your
group, your colleagues and your organization, then you need to take on the
PRACTICE of leadership and the discomfort, and growth, that comes with it.
To learn more about J3P’s team and our approach to Developing
and Supporting Physician Leaders, visit us at www.j3phealthcaresolutions.com.