Five Criteria That Are the Cornerstones of an Effective Leadership Model in Healthcare
Great leadership skills are instrumental in the success of any organization, and case management leadership in a hospital setting is no exception. If you are serving in this integral role, you know it requires a unique skill set.
Though leadership is a universally valued trait, not all people or organizations define it the same way. In a paper published in the Journal of Healthcare Leadership, a research team at Duke University identified five criteria as cornerstones of an effective leadership model in healthcare: emotional intelligence, critical thinking, teamwork, integrity, and selfless service.
Emotional Intelligence Is the Keystone Skill in Healthcare Leadership
The Duke team recognized emotional intelligence as a core competency that held the other factors together. In fact, the authors argued, without emotional intelligence the entire model would crumble.
This term refers to the ability to identify and manage emotions. Emotional intelligence requires three skills: awareness, management, and the ability to utilize emotions and apply them to problem solving.
Emotional intelligence is sometimes called emotional quotient or EQ. In healthcare case management, it enables a care manager to be smart about personal feelings and the feelings of others, and therefore enhances his or her ability to lead others, manage behavior, and engage team members and patients in a plan of care.
Case Managers Use Critical Thinking to Impact Patient-Centered Care
Another core competency — critical thinking — is the objective analysis and evaluation in order to form a judgment. The team found this competency foundational to the definition of developing leadership in the healthcare setting.
A leader who has cultivated critical thinking skills will raise vital questions and problems, gather relevant information and think open-mindedly about alternative means of solving the challenge.
Using these skills, case managers can recognize shifts in patient status, ensure patient safety and help to quickly examine and determine innovative improvements in patient care.
Case Managers Must Facilitate Teamwork
Teamwork is crucial when the health of an individual is dependent on how well a group of people can work together in order to achieve a goal.
Individuals who have strong teamwork skills are also able to improve those skills through constructive feedback, and can work together within a team despite any personal conflict. This can sometimes be difficult if the individual placing the most resistance in the team is the patient.
The Duke researchers found teamwork also included the ability to be decisive within a group of people and the ability to build and maintain relationships. Those with strong teamwork skills were also able to optimize the dynamics within the team, motivating those who are unwilling to perform specific tasks.
Integrity is Hallmark of Good Leadership
The Duke leadership model shows integrity and selfless service as vital components of effective healthcare leadership.
The definition of integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Some of the quantifiable actions psychologists have observed in individuals who have integrity include
- Being authentic, honest and trustworthy. Apologize when you know you’re wrong, especially to those who are beneath you on the organizational chart
- Giving credit. Highlight staff accomplishments
- Reacting calmly; giving second chances. Refrain from name-calling or other rude behaviors during disagreements. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt when circumstances are unclear, and wait to pass judgement until all the facts are in
- Being accountable and genuine. Those who act with integrity stand by their word and are accountable to others, including those on their staff
Selfless Service is Foundational to Case Management
Duke researchers placed selfless service at the base of their leadership model. Not surprisingly, it’s a foundational core competency case managers must learn in order to become strong leaders in the healthcare setting.
Selfless service in healthcare focuses on maintaining patient centeredness, but also includes cultivating personal development and resilience, developing self-awareness, and managing yourself.
The Duke study suggests that each of these leadership skills are necessary to grow a strong healthcare leader, but they are not necessarily learned immediately. Building leadership is a journey.
A good leader understands that it’s important to continue to grow over time. An excellent leader is someone who becomes a role model and seeks to grow other leaders.
Hargett, C.W., Doty, J.P., Hauck, J.N. (2017) Developing a Model for Effective Leadership in Healthcare. Journal of Healthcare Leadership. 9:69
Meyers, S. (April 6, 2015) 7 Signs of People With Integrity. Psychology Today.