While some people are often seen as “born leaders,” anyone can benefit from leadership training. Often the born leaders identified by others may be charismatic but may still lack some of the basic leadership traits needed to effectively lead and develop others in complex environments and over the long term. Leadership training is a basic part of the career path for many leaders; however, it is lacking in others.
Physicians Lack Leadership Training
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), medicine is exactly the type of industry where there is a gap between the need for leadership skills and efforts to instill them in a key group of senior employees.
“Medicine involves leadership … Nearly all physicians take on significant leadership responsibilities over the course of their career, but unlike any other occupation where management skills are important, physicians are neither taught how to lead nor are they typically rewarded for good leadership.”
HBR points out that even though healthcare organizations often identify leadership as a core medical competency, they rarely teach these skills or reinforce their importance through training provided to physicians.
A Different Career Path
Additionally, the career paths of physicians are different than those of other professionals and executives when it comes to taking on leadership responsibilities. In medicine, physicians begin managing and directing teams early in their careers and also tend to rise through the ranks uniformly.
In other words, there is relatively little link between identifying leadership skills among physicians and putting them in leadership positions. Whether or not a physician is ready to be a leader, he or she is often simply put into that role.
Here, we’ve discussed why there is often a lack of leadership skills found among physicians even though they are frequently put into leadership roles early in their careers and advance whether or not they are demonstrating growth in leadership skills.
In a follow-up post we’ll talk about some of the specific skills that are essential for physician leaders, and in a third post, we’ll talk about some tips and strategies for making sure they acquire those skills.