Barlow/McCarthy Blog

Five Leadership Traits for Physician Relations

Sep 26, 2016

five-leadership-traits-for-physician-relations-1By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” -Andy Stanley

Most organizations are getting serious about finding the right talent to launch or improve their physician relations. Gone are the days when this role is a catch-all for the “great-with-people” backgrounds. The right talent, however, goes beyond the field role and is critical for those who lead this effort. The role is challenging with those sales types on one end and the pressures of the administration on the other.

We get the opportunity to work with some fabulous leaders and when we do, here are a few of the attributes that are always evident:

  1. They are trusted. This is true for most great leaders. For field staff, it is critical for them to know that someone has their back. Field staff expect that rules are managed equally for everyone and that leaders do what they say they will. Candor is critical. For field staff actions speak louder than words.
  2. Motivators. Good leaders keep teams energized. This is not the cheerleader type of motivation. Field staff need short-term and long-term goals and are often motivated by achievement.  Good leaders find ways to motivate at individual and team levels. For example, if you have someone on the team who is all about learning, find ways to let them take the lead and then share with the other team members.
  3. Listen to what is said and unsaid. Call it intuition with a dose of paying attention. Good leaders pay attention to the little stuff that can quickly become the big stuff and they act on it. This can be a field rep who is “off their game.” Or a service line leader who is not responding to the team’s request. Or more requests by leadership for market results. Average leaders respond while great leaders work to understand.
  4. Ability to embrace change. Let’s face it – the role is changing and we need to change with it or risk being dinosaurs in the industry. Great leaders understand the strategic direction of the organization and provide tools and support to their team to stay relevant. These leaders also know that with new offerings, sometimes the evolution means old work needs to go away.
  5. The drive to improve. The best leaders are never satisfied. And while that attribute might drive them personally crazy, it is a difference-maker. They are always looking for better ways to measure, to improve the model, to support their talent with feedback and building skills, to provide the right feedback internally and to develop their talent.

Most of us have probably had a great leader…and maybe some who were not so great. If you are in the leadership role, or aspire to be there, consider the personal development skills that are working for you and those that could use a little attention.