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What three qualities are most important in a successful leader in healthcare communications?

Posted: January 12, 2012 - 8:53 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Today’s blog post is a reprint from Communiqué. Last year the magazine posed the question, “What three qualities are most important in a successful leader in healthcare communications?” I shared my thoughts on a balanced approach to leadership, and I think it applies to many industries:

While all successful leaders need qualities that engender trust and respect – integrity, sense of purpose, vision, experience and confidence – leaders in today’s healthcare environment may be more successful by achieving a balance in three key areas: determination and flexibility; practicality and idealism; and expertise and a willingness to continue learning.

Determination and flexibility

Determination to lead an individual or a group toward a goal in the face of challenge, criticism or any number of unforeseen events should be balanced with the flexibility necessary to “pivot and turn” when a plan or goal needs to be adapted.  For example, today’s crossroads of media and technology have revolutionized the pace of communication, requiring industry leaders to think quickly, navigate skillfully and communicate effectively with their organizations’ stakeholders.

Expertise and a willingness to continue learning

The previously mentioned advances in social media and information technology have spurred rapid and dramatic change, inspiring breakthroughs in health and medicine and transforming the way information is delivered and exchanged.  Leaders in healthcare communications must understand these new resources and processes in order to assess their effects.  Experience is invaluable, but it can generate bias.  A successful leader needs to be open to new ideas and approaches.

Practicality and idealism

“There must be a better way to do this,” is a popular sentiment among leaders.  That thought stems from the practical experience of having created or done whatever “this” is and the idealism that inspires and drives a vision.  The most successful leaders – in our industry and outside of it – seem to derive this balance from an understanding of their stakeholders’ needs and expectations.

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