Leadership is playing a continually growing role in healthcare settings. Practitioner skills will always be central to the demanding roles doctors play, but the past few decades have seen other assets become almost just as critical.

What We’re Used To

Hospital environments have long been hierarchically structured, with top-down systems deciding how things get done. Junior doctors often need to jump straight into their roles. In an organizational setting where time is tight and there is a lot to be accomplished, top-down directives can often seem like the most efficient, adaptable solutions at first glance. Obedience is often a norm in the cultures that evolve in response to these hierarchies, as well as a ‘sense of duty’ to perform without question. There is frequently very little time or leeway for junior doctors to provide input.

In practice…

Currently, healthcare settings are getting more and more dynamic and continually innovating. They’re complex, with many stakeholders influencing how day-to-day care and treatment is delivered. The traditional culture is now at stake.

This calls for more contemporary workplace relationships that encourage team input and a different kind of leadership.

Here are three key trends behind the growing demand for medical leadership

1. Sharing a clear vision and engaging people

We live and work during times where we find ourselves confronted with continuous change. This means there is more need within hospital cultures to have a clearer long- and short-term vision; a clear direction that is given by medical leaders. A well-communicated direction that ensures that every professional knows what is expected of him or her.

On the one hand, there is the need to install and maintain important procedures, uniformity in our ways of working. These are important for efficiency and clarity.

On the other hand, it is also necessary to get continuing input from the daily experience and knowledge of people on the work floor. They have a wealth of experience and reflections that should be involved in decisions concerning new healthcare-related processes.

Medical Leaders need to be more involved in giving clear direction, and at the same time they must learn to develop two-way relationships to engage and mentor their staff.

2. Technology and Patient Relationships

The ever-growing availability of information has also been changing how doctors and patients interact. As self-diagnoses and treatment information become readily accessible online, patients are often coming into practices with more informed ideas of how they would like to receive treatment.

Junior doctors and those delivering healthcare must be prepared for these newer relationships. Because it’s no longer about deciding on diagnoses, treatment, and informing a relatively passive patient of your decision. Now, doctors need to know how they can make patients more aware of their own responsibilities for becoming, and remaining healthy. And very often, this means sharing the decision-making.

A new way of advising patients is needed, with ‘shared decision-making’ playing a key role in ‘leading’ patients.

3. Millennial Values in Healthcare Leadership

Millennial values are among the top reasons that medical leadership is becoming increasingly more important. Millennials are used to receiving encouraging feedback while learning, and arguably can be seen as relying a lot more on sensitive, encouraging styles of feedback. This presents a challenge to the conventional “just follow” mindsets that previous generations have been raised to value, or at least to adopt.

Delivering information that junior doctors will take on willingly means we need to let go of the ‘direct’ and ‘instructional’ styles that we may be used to. To mentor effectively, medical leaders must learn to embrace more interactive, supportive, coaching communicative styles so they can be more easily received by junior doctors.

On top of this, as Millennials make up increasingly more of our workforce, we’re seeing up to 20% of this generation’s doctors place more emphasis on mentoring. There is less and less room for one-way directives and much more demand for development-focused interaction between junior doctors and their superiors.

In short, there is a drive for more development, greater learning, and leaders who are equipped to provide for these demands.

So, we are seeing a growing demand for leadership development initiatives, driven by Millennial values.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be looking more at how hospital culture is changing and the key aspects of medical leadership. Please feel free to join in the discussion and share your thoughts!

This post was written by Senior Consultant Jolande Koolen, and appeared originally on TimeToGrowGlobal‘s blog.