Six Characteristics of an Effective Leader

April 30, 2016
David J. Norris, MD

Whether you are dealing with patients or staff, if you work to develop these six leadership characteristics, your effectiveness will increase.

I have discovered that effective leaders possess six basic characteristics. Whether you are dealing with patients, negotiating contracts, or working to improve a process or system, if you work to develop these six characteristics, your effectiveness will increase.

Effective decision making. Effective leaders don't procrastinate and they aren't worried about making a bad decision. They realize life is just one decision after another. If you happen to make a wrong decision, make another decision to correct the previous one. Don't let the fear of being wrong cloud your judgement.

Mission and purpose driven. Effective leaders know what the mission and purpose is for their business, division, or office. They also possess a mission and purpose for their own life. Mission is the "what" portion of their actions and purpose is the "why." Each and every decision or action is based upon the what and why - their mission and purpose.

Set valid goals and objectives. Good leaders know what they can control. They can control how they submit their claims. They cannot control what happens when the claim hits the payer's desk. They also realize it is wasted time worrying about things which are out of their hands. They learn from their past experiences and adjust their future actions in order to avoid missing the objectives they have set.

Find and solve the real problems. Good leaders set out to solve the real problems. They recognize that not everything that hurts is a problem. Sometimes those pains are really just symptoms. Without knowing the real problems at hand, the best one can hope for is to put a Band-Aid on the problem. Leaders use lots of questions to discover the real problems. Their favorite questions begin with what, how, and why.

Have laser-like focus. Good leaders are focused on the problems at hand. They do not let superficial issues distract them. Knowing their mission and purpose helps them to remain focused on solving the current problem. They continually reassess where their focus is and whether or not they have taken their eye off the ball.

Have a growth mindset. Effective leaders and decision makers understand that a growth mindset is critical to achieving one's goals and objectives. They recognize they might not have all the answers. They will approach problems with an open mind, refraining from making assumptions, and use questions to either confirm or reject what they objectively observe. Having an open mind is beneficial because it allows leaders to continually discover new information.

If you're attempting to improve a process or solve a problem, I would encourage to take this list and review these items. Ask yourself the following questions: Am I making good decisions? Am I willing to fix wrong ones? What is it we are trying to accomplish and why? What are the goals and objectives that must be met? Have I found the real problems? Am I working with a growth mindset and refraining from making any assumptions? Once you begin to answer these questions, you will find yourself becoming a more effective leader.

David J. Norris, MD, MBA, CPE,is an anesthesiologist at Wichita Anesthesiology Chartered in Wichita, Kan., and the owner of the Center for Professional Business Development. Do you know what it takes to be an effective leader?  Tell us in the comment section below.

This article was originally published in the April 2016 issue of Physicians Practice.