Doctor? Manager? Leader? You are All Three

Remember all those management and leadership classes you took in medical school? Of course not. Learning how to diagnose and treat disease left no time in your schedule for anything unrelated to medicine.

The only problem is that today, you may find yourself wearing two hats – not just a clinician, but the owner of a small business, your medical practice. In that second role, leadership and management skills are essential.

Owning your practice means that in addition to being a clinician, you are also an entrepreneur, a boss, a manager and a leader. Cultivating some basic management and leadership skills, and understanding the difference between the two, will help ensure that your practice runs smoothly, with minimal staff turnover, highly satisfied employees and loyal patients.

Management vs. Leadership

There is a very big difference between management and leadership, and much has been written about these topics by highly trained and well-regarded experts. To summarize some of the current thinking in the field, management should be reserved for processes rather than people. People require leadership to encourage them to manage their own jobs effectively.

We are all familiar with the term “micromanager.” A micromanager is overly involved in the details of an employees’ work, tries to dictate how things are done, and creates a stressful and negative experience for the staff.

Instead, you should manage the process. Create a workflow that must be followed but empower your staff to carry out their tasks in the manner that suits them best. Coordinate your team members, communicate effectively, and incentivize them to achieve their goals rather than punishing them for falling short.

What Does Empowerment Mean?

Being comfortable enough to take a step back from the day-to-day tasks required to run your office depends upon your confidence in your staff. Hire the right people to do the right jobs, train them adequately to meet benchmarks, and then empower them to manage themselves.

A Few Tips

This doesn’t mean that you can be totally “hands-off” or expect someone else to bear responsibility for your practice. You become a true leader by implementing the process that employees understand and feel comfortable with. Some ways to do this:

  • Establish realistic, measurable goals for all employees

  • Develop policies and empower managers to implement them

  • Monitor your staff to ensure that they are making steady progress and are on track to meet their goals

  • Create a written reporting process to assist with monitoring

Running a successful practice is a team effort. Your staff will look to you as the team leader who sets the example for professionalism and accountability, provides motivation and support. Recognize that you are not responsible for everything; neither can you delegate all of the responsibility to others. Instead, create a culture that encourages personal commitment by all team members, clearly communicates expectations, holds everyone accountable, and rewards outstanding effort.