Think of someone you consider a great leader. Maybe a former manager, coach, mentor or just someone in your social circles who always seems to take charge naturally.
What about this person makes them the right fit for a leadership role? Generally, it’s not one thing, but a collection of attributes that primes someone to lead.
Change is the one constant in the medical profession. Sometimes it feels like the industry is evolving by the minute, and keeping up can be challenging. But instead of bucking progress and holding fast to outdated methods and processes, good leaders strive to be flexible and embrace innovation—and they work to set a positive example for their team.
Given that ethics are a cornerstone of any medical profession, this one should go without saying. However, successful leaders don’t just follow ethical rules, they also believe in them. They’re bound to doing what is right by their moral compass, and they inspire others to do the same.
There’s no sugarcoating it. As a medical professional, there are plenty of setbacks, challenges and bad days. But as a leader, one has to see beyond the minutiae of the day-to-day and remember the big picture—and help bring it into focus for others. What we do is bigger than us, and the best leaders ensure their team never loses sight of the importance of our work.
While taking pride in your work is essential to success in medicine, developing an ego can be disastrous for one’s career and the culture one creates for a team. That’s why it’s crucial for medical leaders to be introspective. Not only can this help leaders identify their own areas of opportunity, but it’s also helpful for self-identifying feelings of burnout.
As mentioned, things in the medical industry change regularly. In this fast-paced line of work, vigilance is critical to the well-being of a team and its patients.. The best leaders can recognize when something is amiss and react immediately.
Similar to vigilance, being tactical is essential for ensuring positive outcomes. Medical professionals don’t often have the luxury to slowly mull over various strategies and test multiple theories before choosing an option. Instead, we have to think on our feet—and think fast. Great leaders can quickly and efficiently plan out their actions, and simultaneously earn buy-in from their team.
One of the best leadership skills isn’t just possessing knowledge, but being hungry for more. Great medical leaders understand they don’t know everything, but they’re always interested in growing their knowledge base and improving in their work. These leaders also drive their direct reports to broaden their skills and continue their education throughout their careers.
It’s important to recognize these seven leadership traits are not necessarily innate. While some people are so-called born leaders, it’s possible to grow leadership skills throughout one’s career. To become a more effective medical leader, honing these qualities is a great place to start.