Physician and Health Care Leaders – Do You Tolerate Diverse Viewpoints?


Great leaders expect truth from their teams members. Are you open to opinions and options that are different from yours? As a physician leader it is important to develop the skill that allows your team to speak up when problems arise without the fear of retaliation or embarrassment. For example, do you ‘kill the messenger’ when someone brings you bad news or identifies a problem? Killing the messenger is the quickest way to shut down your team and set up a climate that will not speak TRUTH to the leader. Three strategies will be presented to get you on the road to success to building a team that will provide options to problems and innovative solutions.

Strategy #1 Demand options that differ from yours

In this complex health care environment, physician leaders do not have the knowledge and ideas to tackle all situations that can occur. Rely on the knowledge and ideas of your competent team of professionals. Your health care team may come up with solutions that are better than yours. Rejoice that you have a creative and committed team that desires to improve operations of the organization. When others come up with ideas different from yours, it is not an attack on your authority. Tell your staff that you are not all-seeing or all-knowing and that you demand options that differ from yours.

Strategy #2 Value Chronic Naysayers

Do you have a member of your staff that gets on your nerves because they always bring up issues why things cannot get done or it is too risky. Accept these individuals as crucial members of your team. Their concerns and objections can be a check on overambitious plans that have not been thoroughly thought through. They can act as the speed bump to pause the process and maybe prevent you from going over the cliff. If you are going ahead in a particular direction, you might need to mitigate the issues the naysayer brings up. Ask questions and encourage discussion that values each team member’s role and contribution. As the physician leader, you set the tone and example.

Strategy #3 Balance

Balance is what you are striving for. You do not what to get into analysis paralysis. Judge when there has been sufficient information and discussion. Judge when a decision has to be made and action taken. Ensure that all the team members have participated in the discussion. If some members are silent, bring them into the discussion and ask their opinion.

It is important that the physician leader values the role of each team member and respect them for what they bring to the table. When your team sees your honesty and respect for them, they will repay you with loyal, dedicated commitment to the mission.


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