Your Practice Needs Both Leaders and Managers

“Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing.”

— Alan Murray, deputy managing editor for the Wall Street Journal

By Jamie Verkamp  and Rachel Granatino

There are many different types of leaders. There’s the seasoned employee who motivates others to be as productive as he is, or the receptionist who’s quiet, but always gets her work done and treats everyone with respect, inspiring others to do the same. Both exhibit leadership qualities and both types of workers are essential components of a successful business, but only one would make a great manager.

Without Both, You Tip the Scales

Leadership is an important quality in a manager. If a manager is not able to inspire and motivate staff to excel, employees lack direction, and efficiency and morale decline. Conflict may also arise when an individual with the wrong type of leadership skills is placed in a management position.

Many workers are solely focused on function, and define their job as reaching performance goals and meeting organizational standards. You may think of these people as leaders because they’re great at “getting a job done,” but when employees focused solely on their own output are promoted to management the rest of the staff is set up for failure.

Some individuals are natural leaders, whom everyone looks up to due to their charisma, enthusiasm, and overall positive attitude toward work and life. These personalities tend to be more socially motivated than task oriented, however. When these leaders take on a managerial role, productivity may decline due to a lack of clear direction.

Often, billing supervisors are promoted because they have been with the company for many years and are excellent coders. They’ll need more than that to succeed in management, however. These employees are often expected to continue performing their previous roles, in addition to monitoring, motivating, coaching, and guiding those who now work under them. This is a lot to take on, and success requires these people to be personable and have the right type of leadership skills.

The challenge facing many healthcare organizations lies in how to internally promote employees into management without setting them up for failure.

Ideal Mix: A Hard Worker Who Motivates Others

The magic formula is finding managers who are able to lead and inspire others, as well as have the drive to complete tasks and exceed requirements. When hiring or promoting from within, it’s important to look for qualities from both sides of the spectrum, rather than impressive marks in one area or the other.

If you’re tasked with filling a management position, keep in mind that skills can be taught, but behaviors are hard to change. If hiring from within, ask yourself:

  • Does this person exhibit a natural tendency to inspire others?
  • Does he or she participate in meetings, engage in conversations, and share ideas for making improvements to the organization and its processes?
  • Do co-workers like and respect the individual?

Ask your external candidates to share specific examples of how their co-workers responded to their leadership; and ask how they contributed to their department or organization. Certain pre-hire assessments can also help to determine candidates’ natural aptitude to lead and inspire others.

Finding the right managers from either internal promotions or an outside search can be daunting, but this is not a position you just want to “fill.” Frontline managers and supervisors can make or break an organization. Managers are responsible for directly affecting the attitude and culture of your organization. You need them to be able to effectively relate information from physicians, administrators, and other leaders to the staff.

Become an Effective Leader

If you’re considering management as the next step in your career, there are several ways you can prepare to be the best candidate for the role and achieve success.

  1. Tell your supervisor or department head that you wish to be considered for management. Discuss what is expected of managers, any necessary training, and other specifics of the job. The more you know about the career path you are choosing, the better you can prepare yourself.

Don’t shy away from talking with current management team members about their roles, and asking for their recommendations to best prepare you for entering the management track. Start these conversations early to allow time to complete courses and hone other skills necessary to be a better leader.

  1. Read, read, read. The more books, articles, and training courses you can complete, the more you will know and the better you will look in the application process for a management position.

Many books have been written on how to understand, motivate, and lead people. Your organization may offer leadership courses, or you can look into local colleges and universities to see if they offer professional management or leadership courses. The more you can educate yourself on how to motivate and lead people, the better manager you will be.

Take a good look at YOUR motivators for entering a managerial role. For example:

  • Do you enjoy inspiring people?
  • Are you willing to do the work no one else wants to do so you can lead by example?
  • Are you willing to coach people, listen, problem-solve, and be a cheerleader of your peers?

If you can answer “yes” to all of those questions, you are well on the right path to becoming an exemplary leader and manager. Good luck in your journey!

Jamie Verkamp is a seasoned healthcare consultant, working and owning businesses in this sector for more than 10 years. As managing partner at (e)Merge, a medical growth consulting firm, she works with medical professionals in hospital and clinical settings to improve patient experience and her clients’ customer service efforts, referral volumes, and bottom lines. As a speaker and trainer, Verkamp shares her knowledge with audiences at more than 40 events per year, speaking on new marketing initiatives, patient experience, and health care social media.

Rachel Granatino, director of marketing and social media at (e)Merge, uses her passion for advertising and social media in the healthcare industry to design creative campaigns, promote strategic messages, and assist in developing comprehensive plans to drive improvement within the market. She can be found in hospitals, clinics, and association meetings across the country, training on patient experience and social media marketing and assisting clients in developing strategies and implementing best practices to achieve their goals.

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