Developing best leadership practices takes years, as leading doesn’t come with an instruction manual. A manager is someone who keeps things organized by the book – but a leader sparks innovation and models efficiency, consistency, and inspirational work for their staff. It is much easier to bark orders than to actually do the hard work. This is one of the many differences between managers and leaders. Leadership is about understanding communication channels, improving productivity, and increasing strategic thinking. Because of that, things are bound to become stressful for all leaders. Stress is a constant burden, balanced with the feeling of accomplishment you feel after achieving established goals. Most leaders are stuck there in the middle ….but you can’t live in that gray zone. The great thing is that we’ve all been there, especially when it comes to the healthcare consulting world. The hardest part is that the path is individual to each person. The healthcare world is evolving at a fast pace, as we are witnessing many medical innovations that need to be implemented into the market quickly. As we continue to face these constant changes, professionals need to evolve accordingly and recognize what the next big life-saving development could be. It is a big challenge and a responsibility that lands in the hands of true healthcare leaders. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years on the market – our healthcare leadership survival guide.
Is there a crash course for the best leadership practices?
No. There is no magic wand that can make you a good leader, but clients rely on you as their consultant to lead. It is a gentle craft that combines experience, time, patience and strategic thinking. Leadership methodology builds over time and is all about being committed to continued learning. As we mentioned before, the market is constantly evolving with releasing new pharmaceutical drugs and other medical innovations – so there is always something new to comprehend. Once a client recognizes your potential and hires you as their consultant, it is just the beginning. Always be open to new experiences and learn to listen to your clients’ needs and then apply your own methods to achieve their goals.
Avoiding phantom workload limbo
This sounds like something straight from the horror movies – because it is. The worst part of it is that you won’t even know it is happening. First, let’s define it: phantom workload is the work that people unwittingly make for themselves by taking shortcuts around or trying to avoid essential, difficult tasks. The consequences of phantom workload are reworks, unpleasant meetings, and conflicts inside the organization, solving the same problem again and again, and upset customers. That is when people are taking short yet ineffective paths that often lead to more ineffective work.
Of course, one of the scenarios to avoid here is overpromising and under-delivering on results. Promising miracles to your client might sound like a great plan – but it will lead to pressure on both sides. Clients will want to see results because they need their short-term goals met. However, this will create a cycle of pressure, stress, and unsustainable objectives, which will, in turn, create an unsustainable work environment. Quick fixes create bugs in the system, and as a true leader, you need to fix that one bug on time – to avoid more bugs in your work. Don’t be afraid of taking responsibility for difficult tasks and setting realistic goals. It is the first rule of best leadership practices. A reality check is always a great thing. It is better to take small, incremental steps toward your goal than being stuck on the neverending rollercoaster of stress and pressure.
Keep your productivity sustainable
This may sound like a spiritual tenet – but finding a perfect balance is always key. When you are in the healthcare consulting world, you probably want to deliver results quickly and efficiently. There is nothing wrong with being an overachiever, but be careful what you wish for. Most people in management think that the old adage of ‘’working more hours means being more productive’’ is always true. Think again – it is not about quantity, it is about quality. If we were to create a book about the 5 best leadership practices, our first chapter would probably be titled, Quality>Quantity.
No matter how seductive working late is, it will lead you to health problems, personal and professional stress, and the quality of your work will decrease. Find time for everything…. Even letting your imagination flow. Sustainable productivity means: be good at your work but be good to your life too. Get your things done, but let your work stay where it belongs. Honor your resources; it is not always about money. Save your nerves, too – you may need them later.
Building relationships – with your clients and with other employees
When building a professional relationship, honesty is the best policy. You need to be clear about your priorities and effectively predict how much time every part of your agenda will take. We know that clients tend to value speed but we’ve learned what overpromising can do for your business in the long run. Always measure your results and present them to your clients. When it comes to your team, you need to clearly communicate responsibilities and expectations. Setting a clear bar allows time to show you who is dependable and who is a weak link. Based on your findings, you will know how to organize your workload. Avoid being a people pleaser. While it is hard to say ‘’no’’ sometimes, failure to do so often leads to unrealistic goals and further problems.
When you are building a relationship with your clients, be careful not to make them too dependant on your decisions. Healthcare consultants are not some kind of mythical creatures that know everything. Help your clients acquire some serious long-term skills and avoid giving them an immediate fix. Help them grow with your guidance, not just your push.
Strategic thinking and prioritizing
In order to meet expectations and deadlines, and avoid different kinds of conflicts, you will need to learn to prioritize. Sure, every client believes every assignment is important…but you know it can’t be like that. When it comes to best leadership practices, the knowledge to recognize what is important and then prioritize it appropriately is crucial.
You will need to discern:
- Long-term vs. Short-term goals – Set this first because time is always a limited resource.
- Easy vs. Difficult – Balance these in a work week to make trackable progress for both the short-term and long-term of your business.
- Urgent vs. Important – Putting out fires (urgent) can feel like satisfying hard work, but laying the groundwork for your mission as a leader (important) takes more sensitive, less obvious work.
- Comfortable vs. Unpleasant. You will learn something new about yourself here. Think about this one – why is something scaring you? Do it anyway.
When you determine the difference between the right column and the left column to you as a leader in healthcare consulting, you will have the first sketch of your strategy. Then you will know your natural strengths and your instinctive weaknesses. More than that, you will begin asking the questions it takes to know how and when to move forward.
Last but not least, now that you have taken a full leadership inventory – it is time to take action. Your next project awaits, and it could make miracles for your client and their clients. In the world of healthcare consulting, there is no such thing as ‘’one size fits all’’. It is a very specific industry so it needs a special kind of person to deal with everyday problems and challenges. Remember that sometimes changes are going to be slow. You will need time and resources. But if you use these leadership practices to your advantage, you will have satisfied clients, you will build quality relationships, and you will be the one sparking innovation and setting things into motion.