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Executives & Leadership Blog June 25, 2021

By Mike Supple, Executive Vice President, B.E. Smith

8 Strategies to Develop Strong Clinical Leadership

Mike Supple BE Smith

Developing effective clinical leadership is an essential element of organizational success in today’s healthcare landscape. As value-based care continues to close the gap between operational and clinical, these leaders are the bridge between medical staff and administration. As demand for experienced clinical leaders increases, it is becoming more difficult for healthcare providers to recruit and retain these professionals. Here are eight strategies that organizations can utilize to foster success in advancing clinical leadership:

  1. Recognize and Develop Required Skills

    The first step in developing strong talent is understanding the strategic skills needed in the future. Nurture emerging clinical leaders by exposing them to the complex central issues facing your organization. Assign these leaders projects which will hone these capabilities.

  2. Push for Board Membership

    Strategic impact starts at the board level. Despite progress, clinicians remain underrepresented on hospital and system boards. Clinician representation at the board level lends unique, high-level perspectives on important issues facing the organization.

  3. Promote Close Clinical-Administrative Collaboration

    A crucial component of change is the ability to collaborate across the organization’s clinical, financial, and operational boundaries. Clinicians are uniquely qualified to lead this collaboration. They can utilize rounding, job rotation, training, and other means to break down business-clinical silos and foster mutual understanding.

  4. Develop Healthcare Management Skills

    To effectively lead collaboration across the organization, clinical leaders must strengthen business administration skills, particularly in the areas of finance, technology, operational improvement, and people management. Many clinicians obtain these skills through mentoring programs or traditional education such as an MBA or MPH program.

  5. Prepare for New Clinical Leadership Roles

    Growing organizational complexity, consumerism, and the demand for innovation have led to the emergence of a variety of new and combined clinical leader roles. Examples include:

    •  Increased Engagement & Satisfaction
    •  Improved Collaboration
    •  Clinical Integration
    •  Enhanced Care Quality & Coordination
    •  Strategic Alignment

  6. Become an Influencer

    Effective leadership extends beyond functional execution and demands the ability to influence a wide range of people. Clinical leaders should focus on cultivating “soft skills” such as communication, motivation, and team-building.

  7. Invest in Leadership Development

    Leadership development is gaining traction in many organizations due to rapidly growing demand and a short supply of experienced clinical leaders. Hospitals are leveraging internal resources and outside consulting to structure programs blending online and classroom training, mentoring, and executive coaching. Benefits of these programs include:

    •  Increased Engagement & Satisfaction
    •  Improved Collaboration
    •  Clinical Integration
    •  Enhanced Care Quality & Coordination
    •  Strategic Alignment

  8. Implement Succession Planning

    Succession planning is a critical element of any clinical leadership development program. More than half of healthcare organizations do not currently have a succession planning program in place. To build a robust pipeline of clinical leaders ensure your organization’s succession plan encompasses all levels from C-suite to frontline staff.

Developing today’s and tomorrow’s clinical leaders is a significant task. The specific guidance offered in this report will help organization achieve success. The dividends for organizations - and the industry at large - are well worth the effort.

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