This specific study emphasizes on the concept of individual leadership development in health care services. Here, the study describes the importance of individual leadership along with some key leadership issues encountered in health care sectors. The individual leadership development will be highlighted after outlining the major issues confronted by the health care sectors. It helps to demonstrate the impact of individual leadership development on the health care services. In this context, it is essential to mention that individual leadership styles play an important role in growth and sustainability of the health care services. Leadership ensures direction, alignment, and commitment to the development of the work culture in order to deliver high-quality and compassionate patient care (Fitzgerald et al. 2013).
The prime aim of this study is to illustrate how leadership development
of individuals impacts on the provision of healthcare. The healthcare organizations have been confronting a number of challenges in improving their service quality. The major challenge comes from the rapid evolution of technology (Rowitz 2013). All the individuals have own unique styles in managing and leading their teams. They pursue some specific process to handle and deal with particular situations. Their decisions and management process directly affect the teams and the working environment as well. In health care sectors, all the stakeholders including the patients are affected by the leadership plans and processes (Barr and Dowding 2015).
Leadership qualities and styles in health care sectors:
As per the discussion of Colla et al. (2014), the leaders of health care services concentrate on continuous improvements of patient care. The major responsibility of the leaders is to look over the needs and concerns of the patients and meet their expectations as well. Northouse (2015) argued in this context that only effective leaders can lead the business towards success through sustainable growth and development policies. On the other way, ineffective leadership policies make the business face unpredictable hitches. Supporting the discussion, Fitzgerald et al. (2013) stated that the effectiveness majorly and crucially depends on the individuals who lead the entire team. Their supportive, empathetic, compassionate and empowering leadership technique is the only key of their strategic implementation process. However, Barr and Dowding (2015) represented a different viewpoint that the outcome depends on the performance of the leaders along with that of all the stakeholders. All the stakeholders should be clear about the goal of the organizations so that they put effective effort in leading the business towards success. The leaders should consider both the positive and negative feedbacks of the team members and all other stakeholders in order to make ultimate decision. In some cases, it has been found that the care providers neglect the negative feedbacks of the clients (Fitzgerald et al. 2013). Through ignoring the negative feedbacks, the care providers avoid their weaknesses.
As per the statement of Doody and Doody (2012), the level of trust and the authority that the leaders hold in an organization is the most crucial factor in the implementation of any project. The leaders can lead the team members when there is consensus in the workforce with which they wish to work. It is important that the workforce must support the leaders in implementing any project of better care services. Colla et al. (2014) mentioned that most of the leaders fail to implement specific projects because of poor relationship between leaders and employees. Leadership qualities of the individuals are majorly judged by how the employees take the decision of the leaders. In some cases, the decisions and the processes are forcefully implemented. As a result, the stakeholders do not deliver effective performance in fulfilling the goal (Doody and Doody 2012). According to Wong, Cummings and Ducharme (2013), continuous change is needed for the improvements of health care services. The individuals leaders play key role as 'change agents'. Wong, Cummings and Ducharme (2013) highlighted five key skills that the leaders incorporate in order to manage the changes effectively. These five skills are demonstrated below:
The leaders work independently and make the changes as per the decision taken. The leaders take the power monitoring the new operations and activities without the support of management hierarchy.
Co-operation and collaboration are the factors of success. The effective leaders maintain the skills of collaborations to ensure that the co-operations between stakeholders would not be destroyed (Francis 2013).
The effectives leaders develop the trust between all the stakeholders in order to improve the employee relationship. In this context, Colla et al. (2014) represented a different viewpoint that in some organization it is neglected. Conflicts among stakeholders lead the business towards failure.
The leaders have self-confidence about the process they are going to incorporate.
The effective leaders ensures that they would handle the uncertainties. Barr and Dowding (2015) argued that in most of the cases, the leaders fail to deal with the uncertainties and this is the reason that fail to implement the projects successfully.
The above mentioned skills vary among the leaders as per their ability and beliefs. Huber (2013) stated that poor leadership skills lead the business to face several issues. Lack of necessary skills and expertise of the leaders became one of the greatest perils in health care sectors during the early decade of 21st century (Huber 2013).
Key leadership issues in health care services:
As opined by Cherry and Jacob (2015), 'change' is crucially necessary in health care sector to improve the working system and service quality as well. Further, it is mentioned that the leaders confront a number of challenges in launching a new beginning. Several practices are incorporated to facilitate changes. Supporting the discussion, Yoder-Wise (2014) added that technological advancements have been transforming the entire health care industry. Constant change is required for the opportunities and concerns which are evolved from technological advancements. These opportunities and concerns, which lead the leaders to make decisions for changing management system, are highlighted below:
Increase data demands: As Yoder-Wise (2014) stated, technological advancement changes the ways of working in health care sector. The administrative leaders are able to make the decisions more effectively by gathering as well as managing the useful data. However, Harper et al. (2014) argued in this context that the decision making process becomes more difficult because of the technological advancements. The leaders are fully depended on the data gathered technically. Sometimes, the dependent nature of the leaders make them to take ineffective decisions because of the inaccurate data or technical issues (Garling 2008). Though, Hamric et al. (2013) stated that demand for accessing accurate data help the leaders in continuous growth. Advance analytical tools helps them to manage the process more effectively.
Data security: Harper et al. (2014) discussed about the challenge of patient privacy issues in health care sectors. In is mentioned that one of the major responsibilities of the care providers is to ensure that the patients' information will be secured. In some cases, it has been found that the data are disclosed due to technological issues. However, Wiese et al. (2015) argued and stated that as the technology advances more, the leaders needs to incorporate some changes in order to strengthen the data security. Working experience, as an employee in St. John Hospital of Hong Kong, brought me to understand that the demand of data has been increasing in healthcare leadership. This helps them to manage the working activities more effectively. However, from own experience, it has been found that the managers confront issues regarding data security. Currently, they need to strengthen the security of the data of both their clients and authority more.
Patient centered care: According to Yoder-Wise (2014), the prime goal of the health care organizations is to improve the patient satisfaction scores and engagement as well. The organizations are still engaged with the traditional process of delivering patient care. The care providers have not involved the social media yet to the larger extent. Supporting the discussion, Hamric et al. (2013) stated that the health care providers can improve the customer relationship through enhancing the technological engagements.
The above discussion cleared the reason of incorporating continuous changes in the health care sectors. However, it has been found that the leaders face some challenges and hitches to incorporate the strategies and policies (Harper et al. 2014). Harper et al. (2014) outlined the major challenges that the leaders confront during the change management process.
Specialize for growth:
From own experiences, I have found that the private health care organizations newly established in the local areas deliver strong competition to the public health care organizations. Harper et al. (2014) discussed that the traditional health care organizations have been confronting increasing competition because of the rapid growth of specialty hospitals, diagnostic centers, and physician-run outpatient surgery centers. The individual leaders of the traditional health care organizations need to adapt specific strategies in order to attain sustainable competitive advantages. Yoder-Wise (2014) added in this context that the leaders formulate specialized care strategy to compete with the strong competitors. In order to implement best practices, they need to identify the strengths as well as weaknesses of the specialty healthcare providers in their local community. In gathering the information, the major challenge that the leaders face is regarding time and financial constraints.
Prepare for future: According to Hamric et al. (2013), the leaders adapt the change management process as a long run plan rather than short run plan. It has been found that most of the leaders conduct market research to ensure that their expansion efforts would be aligned with the expectations of the local people. Patient satisfaction plays a crucial role in 'improving service quality' planning process. However, Wiese et al. (2015) argued in this context that the leaders avoid conducting market research so that they can minimize the cost. Besides, the increasing demand for health care services put the leaders in pressure. As, it is mentioned before that the individual leaders have different ways of managing and handling the situations. In some cases, different opinions of the individual leaders are the prime reason of internal conflicts (Atallah, Lo and Yang 2012).
Handle resistance with patience: Atallah, Lo and Yang (2012) stated that in the change management process, great change comes through great resistance. After formulating certain strategies and policies, the individual leaders discuss with other leader and team members to implement specific projects in a proper manner. Effective communication is one of the crucial factors that helps in successful implementation process. Wiese et al. (2015) represented a different viewpoint that in most of the cases, the individual leaders fail to handle the resistance with patience because of the uncertainties. My own experience brought me to the point that the leaders do not always strategize alternative plans for cases when the first one is failed. Wiese et al. (2015) further stated that there is always presence of uncertainties in change management process. The leaders avoid identifying the root of the issues and resolve them only for the short run. As a result, the issues threatens again in the long run.
Manage conflicts: As mentioned before, individual leaders have different ways to lead the team. The opinion of the individual leaders might not be accepted by others. Kim, Farmer and Porter (2013) opined that the effective leaders consider the viewpoints of other stakeholders and manage the internal conflicts. This helps them to understand the difficult part of change. Atallah, Lo and Yang (2012) added that the individual leaders fail to manage conflicts due to the communication gap. In this context, Kim, Farmer and Porter (2013) stated that communication gap is the prime reason of the conflicts between the leaders and other the stakeholders. The strategy implementation planning process is based on specific period of time. Hence, the leaders deal with the time constraint through avoiding discussion with the stakeholders.
Gap identification: As per the statement of Atallah, Lo and Yang (2012), gap identification is one of the essential factors that the leaders consider in the change management system. It is important that the leaders analyze the business market of the specialty healthcare providers and identify the gap between their qualities. Being working in a public hospital, I came to know that the leaders analyze the gap with the quality provided by the local private health care organizations. However, Wiese et al. (2015) criticized such viewpoints and stated the leaders should identify the gap between the service they provide and the service they would provide. It essential that the leaders should identify both the internal and external gap to make growth and success. The leaders fail to identify both the gaps accurately because of lack of data and information.
Individual leadership development and its impact on heath care service:
Following the discussion of Dixon-Woods, McNicol and Martin (2012), the specialized care strategies are made up by personal beliefs, attributes, and future goal of the individual leaders. This influences the perspectives of the stakeholders for their organization and the authority. As opined by West et al. (2014), individual leadership development is required to deal with the challenges that they confront. Further, West et al. (2014) identified some core personality traits to enhance the individual leadership effectiveness:
High stress tolerance: West et al. (2014) mentioned that the individual leaders should be less affected by the conflicts, pressure, and crisis events. They should handle all these with high level of patience and resistance. This also helps them to increase the confidence level of the stakeholders.
Internal locus of control: According to Dixon-Woods, McNicol and Martin (2012), the leaders should ensure that all the activities undertaken by them would be their control more than the control of external forces.
Emotional maturity and personal integrity: All the individual leaders should aware of their own strengths, weaknesses and typical reactions to particular situations. They should less prone to moodiness, irritability and angry outbursts (Dixon-Woods, McNicol and Martin 2012). Along with that, they should lead the teams with high levels of personal integrity, along with honesty, transparency and trustworthiness (Sultan 2014).
Enhance power of motivation: Sultan (2014) stated that the effective leaders always value the viewpoints of their stakeholders and motivate them for improving their performances.
Low needs of affiliation: The leaders should make proper decisions in complex situations such as managing poor performances of the employees. In certain circumstances, the leaders should avoid extremely low affiliation needs which means they should be uncared about the opinion of others (West et al. 2014).
Kim, Farmer and Porter (2013) demonstrated that the improvement of personal traits of the individual leaders affect the health care services. Sutherland (2013) mentioned further that Lewin's change management theory could help them to improve the service quality and create a positive working environment as well. Under this certain theory, the leaders would able to improve their change management system through focusing on three factors of Unfreeze, Change, and Freeze (Refer to Appendix 1). Unfreezing is the stage of understanding the changes needed in the health care sectors. Afterwards, the leaders should consider 'change' as a process rather than event. Freezing defines that the leaders should establish stability once changes have been made. On the other way, Montgomery and Oladapo (2014) argued that the health care organizations should concentrate on the talent management theory more rather than the change management theories. It is mentioned that talent is increasing source of value creation. Further, Montgomery and Oladapo (2014) outlined five best practices of talent management process including:
The individual leaders should align the relationship between better talent and better business performances. This helps them to improve the work efficiency of the employees.
The leaders should ensure that the employees' goals are also changing as per the changes of the organization. Through this forces, the leaders would able to place greater emphasize on talent management strategies and practices.
The leaders should reviewing the performances of the employees and manage their talent accordingly.
Further, the employees should be motivated as well trained for providing better care to the patients. The care providers should ensure that the concerns and expectations of the patients are highly considered so that the clients are highly valued and taken care of.
Lastly, the leaders should reward the employees for their performances. This motivates them in improving their efficiency.
The study concludes that the individual leaders play a crucial role in improving the health care services. it has been found that the health care organizations confront several challenges in the present era. The major challenge comes due to the rapid advancements of the technology. The study brings out some recommendations in context of individual leadership development. Personal trait improvement takes a crucial place in individual leadership development. Further, it has been found that Lewin's change management theory and talent management theory would positively affect the health care services.
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