Have you considered a move up in your healthcare career but found yourself intimidated by the idea of managerial or leadership positions. For many careers, after a certain point, the only way to continue to progress is to take on leadership roles. For some people, this can be intimidating enough for them to opt-out, meaning that they have no choice but to remain on their current rung of the career ladder with nowhere left to climb. What is it that puts people off leadership, and could those very traits be exactly what we need to see more of?
Being a leader can look very different depending on what part of the healthcare industry you’re in. Whatever your current role, you might be wondering if you have what it takes. After all, sticking your neck out and taking a chance on yourself is not without risk.
Understand where your skills lie
You have probably encountered a situation within your workplace in which an employee was considered brilliant at their job and therefore promoted to a management position. At this point, they found themselves out of their depth and no longer thriving in their role. This is sometimes known as the ‘Peter Principle.’ Essentially, it suggests that people can sometimes be promoted to their level of incompetence. If you think about it, this makes sense. An employee who is successful, savvy and proficient in their role is naturally considered for promotion. They will continue to soar through the ranks until they reach a position in which they find themselves flying a little too close to the sun and lacking the skills needed to competently tackle their new role. Not only are they no longer excelling, but they might be floundering. Being a great salesman, for example, doesn’t necessarily require the same skills needed to manage a team of salespeople; think Michael Scott in The Office, and you get the idea. The promotions might grind to a halt at this point, but the employee is unlikely to be demoted. More often, they simply remain in the role they have now reached, dwelling just at their level of incompetence.
Conversely, there are those employees who stay just shy of a leadership role in which they could excel. Perhaps, most often, this is an issue of self-confidence and self-awareness. Some of us assume we will be able to do just about anything we put our hand to without questioning whether we possess the particular qualities needed for that role. Others have all of the necessary tools collecting dust in their toolkit, hampered simply by a lack of confidence or an aversion to wielding authority. For those of us who have avoided leadership positions, it might be time to take a hard objective look at ourselves and consider whether we could be the very leaders our workplaces need?
How can you change this?
Whether you find yourself in the first scenario of not quite having the necessary education to fulfill a leadership role entirely or you lack confidence, fortunately, there are ways you can change this.
Regarding the first problem, if you possess the right attributes to become a leader, but lack the education, then you can solve this by “heading back to school.” As an example, you might be working in nursing and toying with the idea of pursuing higher positions. In order to achieve this, you should, therefore, apply for nursing leadership courses. These online courses allow you to continue working, building up your reputation as a hard worker while also building up the necessary skills to find continued success when you get promoted.
If you lack confidence but have the skills and education, then you should start to try the following:
- Doing one thing that scares you a day
- Promote positivity
- Don’t accept failure
- Be prepared for anything
- Stop comparing yourself to others – be yourself, and you will soar the heights of your career
4 skills that leadership needs more of
On top of confidence and education, there are some essential skills you need too:
- Empathy: Empathy has all too often been wrongly associated with weakness, softness, or sensitivity thought to be unhelpful in leadership or business. Fortunately, it is undergoing a long-overdue rebrand and beginning to be recognized for the strength it is. In fact, Jacinda Ardern, current Prime Minister of New Zealand, appears to have become the poster-woman for empathy in leadership. She has received a great deal of international praise for charting a new path and a new model of leadership that harnesses important skills like empathy.
- Great communication: Good communication should underpin all of the relationships in our lives, whether professional or personal. Having the ability to be clear and concise and honest, but also tactful, can be the gateway to achieving effective collaboration and cooperation and to creating a common goal and vision that others are willing to get behind. Don’t forget that there are two essential strands to communication: talking and listening. That second strand is crucial if you want to create a thriving culture of creativity and collaboration as well as ensuring that employees feel valued and considered.
Humility: Humility requires you to accept that you are human, and you will make mistakes; that’s a guarantee. However, it can be something that leaders are reluctant to acknowledge as it can be perceived as showing weakness or suggesting incompetence.
- Showing humility doesn’t mean lacking confidence; in fact, it’s the opposite, You won’t have all of the answers, and will sometimes need to defer to someone with greater expertise than you. This is particularly true in healthcare.
- Empowering others: This is about recognizing strengths in others and being able to give them the tools and confidence to thrive, develop, and grow. You don’t want to micromanage your team as you risk disempowering them and making a rod for your own back. If you need to oversee every minor decision, you will find yourself overstretched and unable to get on with the big stuff. Delegate appropriate tasks to your team and trust them to carry through. If you’re unsure about an employee’s capability – start small, assess how they manage, and build on their tasks over time.
Utilizing the skills described above should not be confused with people-pleasing. In leadership roles, you’re going to have to make tough calls. You will need to be decisive and able to delegate, and you’re not going to please everyone all of the time.
Now is the time to have a rethink and consider whether you could be exactly the leader that your workplace and the wider healthcare sector desperately needs.