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Five Attributes Critical for Healthcare Leaders in the Near Future

March 28, 2018

healthcare-leadership-attributesPlenty has been written about the ongoing changes to healthcare, including increasing economic pressures and the rise of consumerism.  (See a nice summary in a recent article by Fierce Healthcare). Do these changes mean that the competencies, skills, and traits of successful healthcare leaders of the future will be substantially different from those of today? 

There’s no reason to think that success won’t still be built on core leadership competencies such as critical thinking, resolving conflicts, and leading others. Some competencies once thought of as “nice to have,” however, may become critical for success in the future.  B.E. Smith surveyed more than 800 healthcare executives for their Leadership Intelligence Report.  They identified five critical attributes for healthcare leaders in the near future: 

Vision and Strategy

The most important competency was identified as Vision and Strategy. Vision and Strategy allows a leader to align strategies and priorities with the organization’s mission, vision, and values and also identifies and interprets underlying trends and how those trends will affect the organization.

Related: Driving Organizational Change: 5 Tips for Leaders


Right behind Vision and Strategy, was Integrity. Acting with integrity is important during times of change, as leaders must build trust and gain buy-in for new strategies with uncertain or unknown outcomes. Leaders need to be open and honest and identify barriers to change and new ideas. They have to help others understand why the changes are necessary and help others see the potential benefits.

Related: 1 Tip from a CEO: Empower and Engage Your Employees


Given the above two competencies, one can imagine the importance of Communication and why it made the top five. Leaders will need to articulate changing business demands and new ideas in ways that are engaging and easy to understand. They need to be active listeners when fielding the team’s concerns regarding the future of the organization.

Related: Leadership Tips for Better Communication


Learning Agility, the ability to perform and deliver when faced with new challenges, tasks, and problems, is another critical competency in changing uncertain environments. Agile leaders are often the first ones to step up to the plate and make observations and offer insights. 

Related: Measure Learning Agility to Identify Successful Leaders


Rounding out the top five was Collaboration.  Particularly in times of uncertainty and growing complexity, no leader has all of the answers.  They need to work with others and cultivate their networks to address issues and make the most informed decisions possible. Leaders need to build relationships and foster a collaborative environment at all levels of the organization.

Related: 3 Strategies for Building Better Senior Leadership Collaboration

The pace and scope of change in healthcare is unprecedented.  A new level of leadership is going to be critical.  As the Fierce Healthcare article points out, even the nature of that leadership needs to change.  To learn more: 

healthcare leadership

Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Senior Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.