Physician Outlook

Four Competencies of a Change Leader


Physicians are, by training and default, change leaders.

Whether employed and called to lead by a large hospital system, or self-employed in a private practice, or face-to-face with a patient in an exam room, physicians need to recognize and develop these four core competencies in order to lead successfully.

Leading change is one of the most challenging things any leader will do during their leadership career. Inertia permeates every organization when it comes to change. Objects at rest want to stay that way. Change requires energy. Change also requires leadership. If you are leading change in your organization, here are four key competencies that will help you initiate and attain the results you need.

Listening. Strong leaders must be willing, be able, and have the self-discipline to listen. Listening goes beyond the perception of the auditory inputs you experience. That’s hearing. Listening is your ability to assimilate, relate, and understand the messaging others are sending out. A leader must be able to adjust their frequency, much like the old AM radios of yesterday. You must adjust your perceptions of what you hear and change that frequency just a bit, so the signal becomes clearer. Once you do that, the static of the situation will drop out, and you’ll understand the concerns of those you lead.

Communication. Leaders must have strong communication skills. You must be willing to communicate your vision of the future, your objectives, and your goals. Communication takes work and effort. Some have an innate ability to communicate so that others easily understand their message. Other folks have to work at it a bit. The important lesson is that you expend the energy and thought to broadcast your message in a way that those you lead will understand it. This requires that you consider the point of view of the other party and translate your message accordingly.

Honesty. A true leader will call it like it is. They are not afraid to speak the truth. They recognize sugar-coating the message might not get the desired outcome. If something isn’t working, they are open and honest about it and are not afraid to admit when things do not go as planned. They also do not seek to assign blame. If their plan doesn’t work as they thought it would, they will accept the responsibility and craft a new plan. They do not blame poor outcomes on the efforts of those they lead. Instead, they accept the blame and change the plan.

Subordination. Subordination means they recognize they are not the vital cog in the wheel. In fact, they might not even be a crucial member of the team that actually gets the work done. They provide guidance, planning, and execution, but they know the organization’s mission and purpose are greater than themselves. They recognize the task at hand is more critical than any glory they may receive.

Take a minute and examine your leadership. Which of the four competencies do you have? Hopefully, all four. If you need help with your change leadership, visit www.davidnorrismdmba.com today. 

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