Leaders share what skills they struggled with when they first became managers and how they gained expertise in those areas.


pg64_last-word_lissDelegating Responsibly

Physicians who move into management roles must become comfortable with accepting and trusting colleagues’ and subordinates’ work as one’s own. Medical school, residency training, and medical practice reinforce individual responsibility. However, physician managers must learn to delegate authority and appropriately balance between micromanagement and abdication. For example, after almost single-handedly taking on the initial stages of one particular project, I quickly learned that I was more effective if I incorporated the ideas of my capable subordinates during the second phase.

Don Liss, MD, is senior medical director, Clinical Programs and Policy, Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia.

pg64_last-word_parsonsBecoming a Mentor

I realized the value of mentoring my employees as I developed mentoring skills through dedicated focus early in my career. I discovered that time spent on mentoring paid off for the employee, the organization, and for me because I also learned from each mentoring relationship. I learned to listen to my employees and use what I discovered to further develop my staff. While young leaders face the challenge of mentoring staff while they are still devoting time to their own professional development, investing in employees pays off in a more skillful and satisfied staff and career-long relationships.

Kathy Parsons is system director, Revenue Cycle, CentraCare Health, St. Cloud, Minn., and a member of HFMA’s Minnesota Chapter.

pg64_last-word_allisonHiring Capable Staff

As a young leader, I struggled with spending much of my time and focus on executing tasks instead of truly leading. I learned that first you need to surround yourself with capable, confident, and passionate people. For example, I know that I need the best and brightest chief medical officer, financial manager, and IT leader, so I seek team members in those fields who are at the top of their games. I cannot build the strategies myself, so I find the right team to build them with me. Successful leaders trust their people and lead with vision and energy.

Joel Allison is president and CEO, Baylor Scott & White Health, Dallas.

pg64_last-word_sanfordSpeaking the Language of Finance

My first budget as a new nurse manager was a disaster. I couldn’t figure out current expenses or funds needed for future projects. When the CFO told me to document my assumptions, I thought he was speaking a foreign language. First, I sought guidance from a finance colleague, and then I earned an MBA and a doctorate in business. Not all clinicians have the option of going back to school, but we all have the opportunity to reach across silos in our organizations to seek mentors who know what we do not know.

Kathleen D. Sanford RN, DBA, MBA, MA, FACHE, is senior vice president and CNO, Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, and a member of HFMA’s Colorado Chapter.

Publication Date: Wednesday, August 20, 2014