• Article
  • November 7, 2018

Two Ways to Help Physicians Develop as Leaders

Physicians play a crucial role in leading change across a hospital organization. Here are ways to help them succeed.

While many physicians possess the qualities necessary to become a good leader, including commitment, passion and integrity, many lack the technical skills and system-based approach to effectively lead programs. Here are two approaches to internal physician leadership development presented at Children's Hospital Association's 2018 Annual Leadership Conference.

Internal coaching

According to Keith Olson, B.S., M.A., director, physician consulting services, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, 70 percent of growth and development comes from experiences that stretch you; 20 percent comes from relationships with a mentor or coach; and 10 percent is from classes, programs, books and videos. "Those are all important methods of learning," he says, "But I see people mostly investing in that 10 percent."

At Lurie Children's, an in-house coaching program is helping physicians build the leadership ability and resiliency they need to perform at their best. Rather than hiring an external consultant or sending physicians to an external training program, Olson works with them from inside the hospital.

He says this method has been effective at encouraging people to change their behaviors, such as becoming a better listener or providing feedback. This approach is adapted to the schedules, pace and demands of physicians. To date, the program has delivered coaching to 85 physicians and provides ongoing coaching to over 40 physicians.

Leadership development program

In 2016, after Advocate Children's Hospital began to bring two campuses together and create a united culture, the need for improvement became more apparent as the role of the physician leader moved from the traditional academic model to one that involves population health, finance and strategy.

That year, the hospital enrolled a group of 25 emerging physician leaders in a two-year leadership development program. The program covered topics such as global evaluation, emotional intelligence, health care finance, strategy and crucial conversation training.

"We chose people from both campuses keeping it within the organization," says Frank Belmonte, D.O., M.P.H., chief medical officer, Advocate Children's. "We looked for physicians who showed signs of informal leadership and also those who were already in formal leadership positions." The program consists of monthly, two-hour evening sessions. The first year focuses on conducting self-assessments such as 360-degree evaluations; emotional intelligence testing; debriefing with the group and working with a coach one-on-one. The second year includes a formal mentorship component with members of the hospital's executive leadership team.

When the first group finished its two-year program, those participants became eligible to mentor the incoming participants.

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