A Focus on the Soft Skills that Healthcare Executives Need in Order to be Successful

There is often an emphasis on systems and management that needs to be driven from the top in the healthcare sector. But healthcare executives need to remember to focus not only on growing their technical skill set, but also to focus on growing a number of fundamental soft skills. It is these soft skills that will enable them to get buy-in from their teams and lead the organization successfully. Transitioning from analytical tasks that require executives to process vast tracts of data to managing people well is a challenging task, but this can be made simpler by focusing on developing certain soft skills.

/Managing partner and co-founder of CSuite Solutions, Stewart Schaffer, was recently interviewed by Managed Healthcare Executive to find out which soft skills he prioritizes and why they’re so important. CSuite Solutions operates as a national healthcare advisory firm and is ideally placed to identify the top skills that make healthcare leaders effective. Of the eleven soft skills reviewed in the article, the four that Schaffer put most emphasis on were inclusivity, relatability, curiosity and accountability.

Be Inclusive and Incorporate Feedback, Don’t Just Be Willing to Listen

It is easy to be seen and to listen to the input of those that you manage, but the ability to include team members in important decisions has powerful positive implications for the business. As Schaffer explains, “Listening is just a first step; leaders need to let their teams know that their input made a real difference; decisions were made or actions were taken that had a real impact on the business.” He went on to note, “Many leaders ask for feedback and then never incorporate it into the planning or decision making of the organization. Team members will see this as being insincere and will withdraw from providing their expertise to the organization.”

Build Relationships, It’s Not Enough Just to Be Transactional if You Want Real Results

There has been a shift from the working assumption that in order to get results you have to be transactional. The primary focus is now on relationships, finding new relationships and growing old ones. As Schaffer points out, “There is an assumption that you have to be transactional to get results,” but this is not where the story ends.

Schaffer believes that “While that is true, it should not define or be at the center of a leader’s relationships with stakeholders. Leaders primarily need to focus on relationships—finding new ones and growing old ones. By being relationship-focused, trust is built and the likelihood of producing win-win strategies dramatically improves. When a relationship is strictly transactional, it typically lacks the view and understanding to grow long-term with the organization. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett all built their fortunes through relationships.”

Curiosity and a Willingness to Learn is an Effective Way to Gain the Trust of Your Employees

An effective way to gain the trust and support of your staff is to show them that you are humble, and an effective way to communicate this is to show curiosity and be willing to learn new things. “By fashioning oneself as being curious and constantly learning, a leader will project a powerful message of humility and transparency,” says Schaffer. “Leaders who ‘know it all,’ ‘have all the answers,’ ‘has been doing XYZ for 25 years’ close themselves off to new ideas, solutions, technology, etc. They also suppress the creativity and motivation of the people they lead.”

Make People Accountable for Their Actions, Reward Excellent Performance

Accountability is key if an organization is to be successful. Good performance should be rewarded, and poor performers need to be managed. Schaffer says, “Leaders must believe in and create an environment of accountability or the organization will suffer.”

He went on to share his philosophy, “I personally believe in equal opportunity, but do not believe in equal outcomes. Everyone doesn’t win when a game is over in the business world. So, while people are encouraged to apply their intelligence, skills, and energy to move the organization forward, there must be equitable ways to measure performance. Those whose performance is exemplary should be well-rewarded. Those who are holding the organization back should be offered a period of time for remediation to determine the future opportunities there are or are not with the organization.”

To read the full article, visit Managed Healthcare Executive.

CSuite Solutions operates as a strategic advisory firm to healthcare leaders across the country. With a successful track record in helping transform hospitals and healthcare systems, Stewart Schaffer co-founded the consultancy and leads the team as the managing partner. The firm works alongside industry leaders to offer healthcare consulting, healthcare revenue cycle management, as well as advising on clinical integration and patient-centered care.

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