Professional athletes, market innovators and artistic prodigies all have a longstanding tradition of magnifying their skills with expert coaching. Likewise, high-performing healthcare leaders are ideal candidates for individualized leadership growth.

Can “born leaders” succeed indefinitely?

While some are “born leaders” with innate charisma and good instincts, most leadership skills must be learned or refined, argues Roberta Sonnino, a physician writing for the Journal of Healthcare Leadership:

“Leaders who believe they can do it without any formal training often succeed for some time, but eventually will encounter critical situations they are not prepared to handle alone. Then they urgently seek the resources to help them succeed, often too late to salvage a career.”

When critical situations arise, finding help among peers can be tricky. “Every single person inside [your organization] has an agenda of some sort,” cautions Gretchen Gavett, editor for the Harvard Business Review, reporting on a Stanford University survey of senior executives. “This makes the coaching environment a rare and safe space to [work through issues],” she explains.

Every role change requires shifts in leadership

In some organizations, lingering misperceptions of leadership coaching as remedial can sabotage the growth of skillful leaders, especially as they rise to new levels of responsibility and influence. Every role change requires the leader to shift the way they lead, meaning self-awareness and intentionality are critical.

“Whether you’re a nurse, patient care coordinator, an administrator or middle manager, when you get promoted, almost instantly you will be expected to have new skills you didn’t have before,” argues Louise Weed, an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-director of the school’s executive leadership program.

Far from punitive, coaching is a powerful skills enhancer that top performers have leveraged for ages in other industries. “There really is not a single top athlete who does not have a coach,” writes Gavett. “CEOs should not be insecure about this issue, and instead see coaching as a tool for improving their already high performance.”

Rather than a sign of weakness, seeking out a coach is “a key attribute of a superior leader,” Gavett concludes. “It could help make the difference between a good organization and a visionary one.”

Lee Angus
About the author

Lee Angus is the president of MEDI Leadership, an executive coaching firm which focuses solely on leadership development in the healthcare industry. Lee has nearly twenty-five years of consulting and coaching experience, with sixteen of those years being work with Healthcare Administrative and Physician Executives.

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