Why Is Strong Leadership Critical In Healthcare Settings?


Strong leadership is important for every organisation and critical in the healthcare industry—whether it’s a hospital, doctor’s clinic, dentist, or allied health services. The healthcare industry is an ever-changing field, evolving and adapting. Over the past few years alone, we’ve seen massive changes happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changing the industry worldwide. For any healthcare practice to be a success and keep up with the constantly changing field, it needs strong leadership that can create a sustainable environment and serve the local community.

Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your healthcare leadership skills, studying for a Master’s in Healthcare Leadership, or advice on how to manage your team better—it’s essential to know why strong leadership is essential in the first place. Did you know that recent national data from 2022 show that one in four Primary Health Care (PHC) nurses plan to leave their jobs? More than four in five primary health care nurses said they felt exhausted and stressed at work, and more than three-quarters felt burnt out. Strong leadership in any healthcare setting is crucial for retaining staff, creating a positive work environment, and finding solutions for problems such as stress and fatigue.

Strong healthcare leadership, whether it’s managing nurses, overseeing doctors, or allied health, is needed for more than just patient care. It’s important at all levels, for the industry as a whole, the practice, or clinic, your employees, and also patient outcomes. Our following list covers just a few reasons why strong and secure leadership is important in the field.

1. Improving patient quality of care

At the heart of any healthcare setting are the patients or clients, and effective leadership is the key to their quality of care. If a team of healthcare workers or a practice is mismanaged or uncoordinated, one of the first aspects that is impacted is the patient quality of care.

For example, a lack of strong leadership in a medical clinic between nurses and management could result in poor communication. This can result in a lack of trust between staff, people not being open to feedback, and failure to deliver important information—impacting patients directly. A good example of this would be crucial information not being communicated during clinical handovers or mismanagement with patient bookings.

Whether it’s a hospital, phlebotomist clinic, dentist, or any other healthcare site, the leadership should also be able to create an enthusiastic environment. If the staff are in an environment where they feel empowered, this will lead to providing better care for their patients. Staff won’t feel as burnt out, it can boost productivity and result in better decision-making and patient outcomes. A good leader should be able to foster a healthy work environment, strive for improvement and inspire the rest of their team.

2. Making difficult decisions

In healthcare, staff have to deal with difficult decisions every day and emergencies can happen at any moment. While medical staff are trained for emergencies, not everyone can make those split-moment decisions—this is where strong leadership comes in.

Confident and experienced leadership can ensure that there are proper protocols in place to guide staff with decision-making if a problem ever happens. Whether it’s a medical crisis, someone has fainted, or needs urgent care, strong leadership skills are critical for tackling those situations.

Even if the leader can’t be present physically to make a decision, they ensure that the organisation has proper protocols to follow to ensure the safety of patients and staff. They establish a clear chain of command for emergency situations, allowing for quick decision-making and effective responses.

3. Preparing organisation and staff for the future

Healthcare is an ever-changing industry, with new technology and treatments being developed all the time. An effective leader should be able to ensure their organisation and team are able to quickly adapt to any changes, and proactively prepare for any challenges.

For example, this could include staying up-to-date on new medical resources, learning about industry breakthroughs, and seeking feedback from the community. A strong leader is always ready for potential advancements or obstacles, so they can provide the best quality of care to their patients and the local community, so their organisation doesn’t fall behind.

4. Creating a positive work environment

A good working culture and leadership is the key to creating and sustaining a positive company environment. If an employee feels safe and comfortable at work, it boosts their productivity and decreases the chance of burnout. Any leadership role in the healthcare industry should be a role model for fellow employees, as well as set clear values, objectives, and goals for everyone to follow.

In healthcare, leadership should foster a positive and collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and that their work is essential. Honest and open communication between staff members, leaders, as well as patients should be valued—so the organisation can provide the best quality of care possible.

Australia is currently facing a shortage of healthcare workers, including those in leadership positions, while struggling with increased demand for their services. COVID-19 put pressure across the entire healthcare sector, leading to record numbers of employees leaving the industry due to fatigue, poor work environments, or leadership. A positive work environment starts at the top of the chain and then trickles down the organisation. If your organisation is looking to thrive and be appealing to work at, ensuring that the leadership has the employees’ best interests and well-being in mind is a great place to start.