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8 Best Leadership Practices for Hospital Leaders

Over the last three decades, I have worked with hospital leaders throughout the U.S. and been on the frontlines of seeing what forward-thinking leaders are doing, which have had profound results for their teams and organization.

They approach their leadership differently to achieve their goals of providing exceptional patient care and building their teams for growth and greatness. They are lifelong learners, competitors, and mentors.

At the core of every hospital leader – they are Mission and Margin Balanced.

Hospital leaders have the very tough challenge of balancing their organization’s mission and margin effectively and weighing the requirements to achieve financial stability while providing high-quality care and meeting the needs of their patients and communities.

  • They set clear financial goals for their organization and develop strategies to achieve them.
  • They understand their decisions’ financial implications and consider the organization’s long-term economic sustainability.
  • They foster a culture of efficiency within their organization, seeking ways to reduce costs and improve processes.
  • They prioritize quality care and patient outcomes and invest in resources and technologies that support these goals.
  • They foster cooperation and teamwork within their organization and encourage employees to work together to achieve shared goals.
  • They communicate openly and transparently with their team and stakeholders about the organization’s financial goals and challenges.
  • They build strong relationships with stakeholders, including patients, employees, physicians, and community partners, and work to align their goals with the mission and values of the organization.
  • They regularly monitor and track their organization’s financial performance and adjust to ensure financial stability.
  • Make data-driven decisions: They use data and evidence to inform their decision-making and rely on data to track progress and assess the effectiveness of their strategies.
  • Foster a culture of accountability: They foster a culture of accountability within their organization, holding themselves and their team members accountable for meeting financial and operational goals.
  • Encourage team members to be cost-conscious and seek ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Here is a comprehensive list of the eight effective traits and areas of excellence hospital leaders have demonstrated in leading their organization.

1. Communicators

Some unique things that excellent communicators do include:

  • Prepare for the conversation: Excellent communicators take the time to think about what they want to say and how they want to say it, whether in a one-on-one conversation, a group meeting, or a presentation.
  • Use clear and concise language: They use simple, straightforward language that is easy to understand.
  • Listen actively: Excellent communicators are good listeners and can fully engage with the person they are communicating with. They can show that they are listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and asking clarifying questions.
  • Excellent communicators can respond appropriately to what others are saying, whether it’s by asking a question, clarifying a point, or giving feedback. They can adapt their communication style to the situation’s needs and audience.
  • Communicate with empathy: They can put themselves in others’ shoes and understand their perspectives. 
  • Manage conflicts: When conflicts or misunderstandings arise, excellent communicators can effectively address and resolve them by listening to others’ perspectives and finding common ground.
  • Seek feedback: They are open to feedback and willing to learn from others to improve their communication skills.

2. Caring

Caring leaders prioritize the well-being and development of their team members.

Some specific things that caring leaders do include:

  • Create a positive and inclusive culture: They foster a positive and inclusive culture that encourages collaboration and open communication.
  • Show empathy: They can understand and relate to the feelings and experiences of their team members.
  • Provide support and resources: They provide their team members with the support and resources they need to be successful, including training and development opportunities.
  • Offer constructive feedback: They give honest and constructive feedback that helps team members improve and grow.
  • Recognize and reward achievements: They recognize and reward the achievements and contributions of their team members.
  • Provide growth opportunities: They provide their team members professional development and growth opportunities, such as training programs and leadership development initiatives.
  • They are approachable and open to feedback and suggestions from their team members.

3. Collaborative

Collaborative leaders are leaders who prioritize working with others to achieve shared goals.

Some specific things that collaborative leaders do include:

  • Foster collaboration: They create an environment that encourages collaboration and teamwork among team members.
  • Encourage diverse perspectives: They value diverse perspectives and encourage team members to contribute their unique ideas and experiences.
  • Share decision-making: They involve team members in decision-making processes and empower them to take ownership of their work.
  • Foster trust: They build trust with team members by being open, transparent, and reliable.
  • They promote teamwork and encourage team members to work together to achieve shared goals.
  • Foster a sense of purpose: They help team members understand the purpose and meaning behind their work and how it contributes to the organization’s larger goals.
  • Encourage collaboration with other teams and departments: They encourage collaboration with other teams and departments within the organization and work to break down silos.

4. Creative

Creative leaders are skilled at championing creativity and innovation within their teams and organizations.

Some specific things that innovative leaders do include:

  • Encourage risk-taking: They encourage team members to take risks and try new things, even if there is a chance of failure.
  • Foster a culture of innovation: They create an environment that supports and encourages innovation and provides the resources and support that team members need to be creative.
  • Encourage creativity in all aspects of work: They encourage creativity in all aspects, from problem-solving and decision-making to communication and collaboration.
  • Encourage outside-the-box thinking: They encourage team members to think outside the box and consider unconventional approaches to problems and challenges.
  • Encourage experimentation: They encourage team members to experiment and test new ideas and approaches and provide the resources and support needed to accomplish so.

5. Coachable 

Coachable leaders are open to feedback and willing to learn and grow.

Some unique things that coachable leaders do include:

  • They seek feedback from team members, colleagues, and mentors to learn and improve.
  • They take the time to reflect on their performance and identify areas for growth.
  • Take an active approach to learning: They take a dynamic approach to learning, seeking professional development and growth opportunities.
  • Ask for help when needed: They are not afraid to ask for help or support and are open to guidance and mentorship.
  • Consider multiple perspectives: They consider various perspectives and are open to learning from others, even if it challenges their beliefs and assumptions.
  • They stay available to change and are willing to adapt their approaches and strategies when necessary.
  • Act on feedback: They act based on feedback they receive, using it to improve and drive growth.
  • Embrace challenges: They embrace challenges as opportunities for learning and growth rather than avoiding them or seeing them as threats.
  • Seek out new experiences: They seek new experiences and challenges that will help them learn and grow.

6. Coach

Leaders who coach and mentor others in their organization focus on helping their team members develop their skills and capabilities.

Some unique things that leaders who coach does include:

  • Identify individual strengths and development areas: They take the time to understand each team member’s strengths and tailor their coaching approach accordingly.
  • They set clear goals and expectations for team members and help them develop a plan to achieve them.
  • Provide ongoing feedback: They provide feedback to team members on their positive and constructive performance.
  • Encourage self-reflection: They encourage team members to reflect on their performance and identify improvement areas.
  • Foster a growth mindset: They foster a growth mindset within their team, encouraging team members to see challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Act as a mentor: They guide and support team members as they develop their skills and capabilities.
  • Facilitate learning opportunities: They facilitate learning opportunities for team members, such as training programs or workshops.
  • Help team members set personal development goals: They help them set and create a plan to achieve them.
  • Celebrate progress and achievements: They celebrate progress and achievements with team members and recognize the hard work and dedication it takes to grow and improve.

7. Curious

Curious leaders are leaders who are constantly seeking new knowledge and understanding.

Some specific things that interested leaders do include:

  • Ask questions: They are fearless in asking questions and constantly seek to learn more about their team, industry, and the world around them.
  • They stay available to change and are willing to adapt their approaches and strategies when necessary.
  • Foster a culture of curiosity: They foster a culture of interest within their team, encouraging team members to ask questions and seek out new knowledge.
  • Seek out new experiences: They seek new experiences and challenges that will help them learn and grow.
  • Encourage experimentation: They encourage team members to experiment and test new ideas and approaches and provide the resources and support needed to do so.
  • Encourage team members to ask questions: They encourage them to ask questions, seek out new knowledge, and provide the support and resources needed.
  • Embrace challenges: They embrace challenges as opportunities for learning and growth rather than avoiding them or seeing them as threats.

8. Continuous Improvers

Continuous improvers are leaders always looking for ways to improve processes and outcomes within their team and organization.

Some different things that constant improvers do include:

  • Set clear goals and objectives: They set clear goals and objectives for their team and organization and develop plans to achieve them.
  • Seek out new ideas and approaches: They seek new ideas and approaches and are open to trying new things and experimenting with different solutions.
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement: They foster a culture of continuous improvement within their team and organization, encouraging team members to always look for ways to improve and innovate.
  • Stay open to change: They stay available to change and are willing to adapt their approaches and strategies when necessary.
  • Use data and metrics to drive improvement: They use data and metrics to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
Lisa Miller Bio Image

Lisa Miller launched VIE Healthcare® Consulting in 1999 to provide leading-edge financial and operational consulting for hospitals, healthcare institutions, and all providers of patient care.

She has become a recognized leader in healthcare operational performance improvement, and with her team has generated in excess of $1 Billion in financial improvements for VIE’s healthcare clients. Lisa is a trusted advisor to hospital leaders on operational strategies within margin improvement, process improvements, technology/telehealth, the patient experience, and growth opportunities.

VIE Healthcare® Consulting was acquired by SpendMend in August of 2022.