September 28, 2023

New Roles, New Challenges: Equipping Healthcare Leaders in Transition

Clinician Leadership | Leadership Development

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Female business leader conducting a meeting

In our work coaching leaders in healthcare, we’ve found many are neck-deep in critical transitions: taking on a new role, moving to a new organization, spearheading a turnaround or leading in an interim capacity. Whatever the case, leaders in transition have a crucial window to shape perceptions, drive behavioral changes, and build rapport and reputation quickly. There isn’t much room for error, nor time to waste before new dynamics and perceptions take root. It’s one of the main reasons why many healthcare leaders seek out executive coaching to give themselves (and their teams) the best chance of success.

Common transition triggers for healthcare leaders

Aside from the general scenarios alluded above — new job or new organization — transition triggers we commonly see as healthcare executive coaches include:

  • Physician or nurse leaders moving from an operations role into leadership. Because their past training and achievements were focused on clinical disciplines, many lack the experience and preparation to lead from a business perspective.
  • Executive moving from a siloed position to a role that demands a broader lens and approach (e.g., COO moving to a CEO position).
  • A rising leader in a “stretch” position where they’re being groomed for future advancement (e.g., stepping into a C-suite seat when an executive retires).
  • A leader who’s tasked with solving a very visible problem, such as turning around operation failures or underperforming teams.

These seasons of transition require fast and difficult changes, and leaders aren’t always aware of how they come across or impact the people they’re leading. For better or worse, every step they take sways team culture and performance in profound ways. 

Executive coaching as a protective investment

To borrow a homebuilding illustration, there’s a reason why every stable construction starts with an expertly crafted blueprint, then a solid foundation. What good would it do to erect new walls, bring in furniture or order a new coat of paint otherwise? Waste of resources, right?

Similarly, it’s wiser to invest in the right plan and foundation as a leader. The longer an organization delays support for leaders in transition, the more they risk problems engulfing that leader’s good intentions. We’ve all witnessed promising leaders get removed because they couldn’t get results fast enough.

Though investing in executive coaching might sound like a luxury to budget-strained healthcare organizations, in reality it provides a layer or protection against potentially devastating mistakes. Rather, investment in building stronger leaders is critical for sustaining clinical quality and safety, physician alignment, strategic planning and quicker financial improvements.

Executive coaching as a safety net free of competing agendas

When problems arise, finding help among peers can be tricky. As the Harvard Business Review explains, every single person inside your organization has an agenda of some sort. It’s not always safe or wise to vent your fears and frustrations to work colleagues. “This makes the coaching environment a rare and safe space to [work through issues],” the authors argue.

We agree. Healthcare leaders who seek us out often tell us their coaching relationship is the one space where they can think out loud, truly be themselves, and where the only agenda is their success.

Exploring what’s possible with a healthcare executive coach

A history of high performance doesn’t make you immune to head-scratching challenges that have the potential to tarnish your good name or alter your career journey. If you’re not seeing the progress you’d like, executive coaching can help you get unstuck, accelerate your goals, and magnify your impact as a leader.

You’d be amazed by the level of clarity that comes from having an outside perspective from someone who’s walked down similar paths before, and helped other leaders in your shoes navigate the same obstacles. Is executive coaching right for you, and is now the right time? We invite you to get in touch, explore your options and gain clarity on next steps.

Why MEDI Leadership?
Healthcare leaders choose MEDI Leadership for our unmatched breadth of expertise, and the results to match. The nation’s only coaching firm focused exclusively on leaders in healthcare, MEDI Leadership coaches have rich industry experience and a long record of helping leaders create meaningful change. Our methods, customized to individual goals, are rooted in solid research on how humans are wired to learn and change, and behaviors needed to drive lasting transformation in complex environments and shifting conditions.
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About the author

Deena Fischer, MA, ACC

A certified executive coach, Deena Fischer, MA, ACC leads business development and operations for MEDI Leadership.

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