The Impact of Leadership Development on Patient Healthcare Outcomes
When you hear the word leadership, what comes to mind? For many, they think in terms of how the webster definition defines leadership which states that leadership is “a position as a leader of a group, organization, etc., or-: the power or ability to lead other people”. While this is very true, let’s take this a step further in saying that leadership is the act of responsibly and impactfully leading an individual or a group of individuals in meeting a mission and vision that leads to a positive outcome. With these combined definitions, the reality is that leadership does not have to be defined by a specific job title because a manager, supervisor, CEO, etc. are not the only people who lead. Anyone moving people towards a common goal can lead, which is why leadership development across the board is imperative in the operational management of healthcare organizations.
Now that we have established a baseline and gathered a pulse on what leadership means from various perspectives, let’s discuss how leadership can either negatively or positively impact healthcare outcomes. Lack of effective leadership can result in poor organizational culture, incohesive teamwork, and poor patient health outcomes. On the other hand, the presence of effective leadership can result in the alignment of personnel with organizational culture, achievement of organizational goals, and positive patient healthcare outcomes among several other elements.
Due to the important role that healthcare organizations play in the health and wellness of the community, the leadership development of their employees whether it be clinical, non-clinical, administrative, etc. is imperative.
Here are 4 things that healthcare organizations can implement to drive positive leadership development within their organization:
1. Offer meaningful continuing education- Learning is NOT a one-time thing. In order to deliver competent and effective services and healthcare, education must occur on a consistent basis. However, the education needs to be in alignment with the current trends & needs of those you serve, consist of helpful action steps that address the social needs of those you serve, and provide solutions to an actual problem that your organization needs to solve.
2. Embed DEI in every aspect of the organization- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) is more than a buzzword or placing more people of color, various sexual orientations, women, etc. in formal leadership positions. DEI is looking at the full complexity of those that you serve on a daily basis and ensuring that services, programs, resources, etc. that you provide speak to their needs holistically and ensuring that proper representation exists within the organization amongst personnel, policy development, processes, etc. The most effective way to do this is to provide consistent DEI training and not just when a life-changing event that is a DEI issue arises.
3. Effectively listen to the needs of all personnel - Have you ever heard that we are given one mouth to talk and 2 ears to listen in order to listen more than we speak? Well, that saying holds true! The areas of opportunities that exist within organizations that can improve organizational culture and lead to high-quality patient healthcare outcomes are within the minds and thoughts of personnel. They deal with the processes, systems, and consumers you serve on a consistent daily basis and know what works, what doesn’t work, and what could work better. So cultivating an environment where listening skills are developed can tremendously improve patient healthcare outcomes and aid in effective leadership development.
4. Ensure that proper representation of personnel from various skillsets is involved in organizational policymaking- Policy... policy... policy... is a word that we consistently hear throughout organizations and rightfully so. The Policy is what governs and regulates how an organization is going to operate. The problem is oftentimes policies are developed without proper representation of various critical key players that are needed to ensure the impact & effectiveness of the policy. Bringing the ultimate end-users from various departments into the conversation of policy development is a sure way to increase the effectiveness of leadership and lead to positive patient healthcare outcomes.
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