A leader is only as good as his or her team, and a team is only as good as its leader.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2008
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For the physician leader who heads a business or organization, an ambitious, talented, and high-functioning team is the first step to running a successful practice or department. The second step is learning how to manage this team.
Moving from being a clinically contributing physician to a physician leader is a major transition. Whether you planned your rise to leadership from the beginning of your career, slowly evolved into the role, or fell into it by default, your ability to transition out of the clinical into the administrative will be a journey in itself.
As a physician leader, you will find that recruiting, hiring, and managing staff will take up a great amount of your time, and establishing yourself as a coaching leader—rather than a managing manager—will give you plenty of opportunities to create the buy-in every leader is working toward.
Some would say that managers get things accomplished by force, while leaders get things accomplished through inspiration. Michael Guthrie, MD, MBA, executive-in-residence at the University of Colorado in Denver, says that leadership is “inspiring groups of people to achieve objectives larger than their own personal interests,” while management is “getting things done with and through other people.”
So why take the time to inspire people though leadership when managing sounds so effective? The answer is simple: People don’t react to strategic plans, goals, and objectives; they react to things that connect to their own values.
Charles E. Dwyer, PhD, associate professor in the Educational Leadership Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and featured speaker at the American College of Physician Executives’ annual Spring Institute, held in New York earlier this year, believes that a physician leader should “never expect anyone to engage in a behavior that serves your values unless you give that person adequate reason to do so.” This boils down to getting your employees to perceive that, by following your plan, they are doing what is best for their own values.
Values? What about Visions?
According to Dr. Dwyer, “Organizations [themselves] do not have, never have had, never will have, and indeed cannot have objectives, goals, missions, visions, philosophies, ideals, ideologies, values, or problems—they can’t because they are not living things.” It is people, he says, who have missions and visions, and that is rare within itself. “Most people I’ve encountered do not have a personal vision,” he says. “Some people just show up and do their jobs.”