It's time for the VITAL Physician Executive's Monthly Leadership Favorites – July 2017 Edition. In this feature I share inspiring and enlightening advice from respected leaders, generally from outside of healthcare (but not always).

Leadership Favorites – July 2017 Edition

This month's favorites follow…

leadership favorites - july 2017 edition accumulate wealth

Accumulate More Wealth as an Administrator

Medscape recently presented the findings from its most recent salary survey. It included a list of factors that correlate with higher levels of accumulated wealth. The authors identified ten such reasons, beyond specialty and years in practice.

The physicians who were considered rainmakers and superstars fell into this group.

But the reason that caught my eye was this: moving into an administrative role. According to Medscape, even part-time administrators tend to earn and accumulate more.

Some of the other reasons were fairly obvious: seeing more patients, and not working in “low-paying practice venues.”

Check out the rest of the reasons in 10 Reasons Why Some Doctors Earn More

Why Don't Organizations Embrace Physician Leadership?

leadership favorites - july 2017 edition - no physician leaders

In an interesting opinion piece by Larry Sobal of MedAxiom Why Aren’t We Embracing Physician Leadership? the author describes his continued confusion around the fact that “some organizations simply can’t (or don’t want to) go beyond lip service when it comes to building a culture, structure and processes where physicians have a predominant (or at least equal) voice in the Board Room, C-Suite, at the service line, at the department, and even at the physician practice level.”

Sobal is Executive Vice President and a Senior Consultant at MedAxiom (a cardiovascular consulting firm). He has a 35-year career as a senior executive in medical group and hospital leadership and health insurance. He contributes weekly to MedAxiom's blog.

I was drawn to this article because it aligns with one of my core beliefs: that physicians need to take on a much bigger role in leading healthcare.

I've been frustrated by the failure by many hospitals and health systems to fully engage physicians, to be transparent with physicians, and to place physicians in major leadership roles.

In his article, Sobel describes why he believes healthcare institutions need to involve physicians more in leadership roles. His primary reasons include:

  1. The need to design complex systems to address quality, access and cost, and meet pay for performance initiatives mandated by CMS and other payers;
  2. Maintaining a sense of ownership and accountability by physicians in their organizations.

Possible Reasons for Leaving Physicians Out

He then goes on to describe the reasons that organizations don't recognize the need for more physician leadership:

  1. They have never had the opportunity to experience the multiple benefits and successes enjoyed by physician led organizations [VPE: e.g., Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and many smaller but equally dynamic regional physician-led hospitals and group practices];
  2. They, therefore, do not believe that physicians can add value to key decisions and strategies.

[VPE: I have some of my own cynical reasons that administrators don't want to involve more physicians:

  1. It's time-consuming. Schedules must be accommodated. It takes time to have delicate or uncomfortable conversations and engage physicians;
  2. They don't want to take physicians away from direct revenue-generating activities seeing patients and performing procedures. They don't understand that the benefits of involving committed, passionate physician leaders will return much more in the long-term;
  3. They're intimidated by their intellect and educational achievements;
  4. Keeping them in the dark maintians leverage with physicians;
  5. They would rather not invest the resources needed to provide management and leadership education for physicians;
  6. They don't trust physicians to maintain confidentiality fearing they might leak important strategic information.

I'm not saying that all administrators think this way. But I have witnessed all of these sentiments expressed by healthcare executives during my career.] 

He finally offers advice for changing the current situation:

  1. Place physician leaders in important positions, give them more authority, and see what happens;
  2. Use dyads (partnering a physician leader with an administrator) to get things started.

Finally, he then lists ten questions that should be answered when building these dyad teams.

I encourage you to read the entire article at Why Aren’t We Embracing Physician Leadership?

leadership favorites - july 2017 edition leadership blunders

Leadership Blunders

Dan Rockwell, the Leadership Freak, lists what he believes are the 7  biggest blunders of the experienced leader. Lo and behold, item #4. Hanging on to poor performers is the greatest shortcoming that I discussed in My Greatest Shortcoming as a Senior Hospital Leader.

He describes 6 other blunders. The other one that rings true with me is #5. Getting stuff done while neglecting people development.

Read the whole list at The 7  Biggest Blunders of the Experienced Leader.


leadership favorites - july 2017 edition listen

More on Listening

I've written about the importance of learning good listening skills. In an article on Medium, Elle Kaplan (CEO & Founder of @LexionCapital) explains why she believes listening is the most important leadership skill.

She goes on to list simple ways to improve active listening that will ultimately enhance your ability to influence and lead. Here is her list:

  1. Don't just stand there, but verbally encourage questions and delve deeper.
  2. Build others' self esteem by avoiding critical comments while listening.
  3. “Ditch the digital” by silencing phones and closing laptops.
  4. Practice by spending time trying different techniques to enhance listening.
  5. Clarify and dig deeper.
  6. Keep your body language in check.

Please check out Learning This Simple Skill Will Make You an Exceptional Leader and read more about the science behind listening and examples for each of Kaplan's tips for better listening.

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Monthly “Dose” of Humor

To wrap things up this month, I think it's best to stop being so serious for a few minutes. [VPE – the following articles are satirical, not real.]

For example, the authors at GomerBlog might be on to something. They write about an ingenious way to improve health while cutting out the need for physicians in McDonald’s Introduces Value Meals With Cholesterol and Diabetes Medications Blended In. This might be one of the solutions to our ongoing healthcare crisis.

In a related article, a hospital has come up with another combination of food and medications to prevent the frustration of long waits in the emergency room. This is described in New Haldol Creamy Spread Added to Emergency Room Sandwiches

In Closing

Those are some of the articles I found inspiring, educational, and humorous.

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