Pursuing a leadership track in health care administration is a complex undertaking. Health care leaders not only need the customary skills expected of all business leaders, but also the ability to navigate highly political organizations evolving in response to new trends and priorities. An MHA degree can help prepare students for the operational challenges that lie ahead, but there are innate talents that also come into play.
Adaptability and Accomplishment
The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) outlines some of the key attributes that are necessary for success today. Some of these – such as communication, good judgment and demonstrated management skills – are important for anyone seeking a leadership role.
One characteristic that is often overlooked in the C-suite is the ability to adapt to organizational culture. Health care administrators must ensure that their leadership role fits their own needs for achievement and accomplishment, while also being consistent with the vision and guiding tenets of the organization as a whole.
Visit ACHE online for an expanded discussion on health care executive careers.
Politics and Policymakers
A top-quality MHA degree program should provide a comprehensive study of the U.S. health care system and the overarching legislative and regulatory concepts that govern the industry. An equally important factor is an understanding of the politics at play in every hospital and health system. Health administrators not only must be able to adhere to federal and state rules for compliance, but they also must understand the nuances of the health care business.
In fact, Becker’s Hospital Review lists “effective advocacy and political skills” as the No. 1 skill set required of today’s health care administrator. Leaders must know who the players are when it comes to securing funding, getting approval for mergers or acquisitions, and championing positive health care policy changes.
The other nine skills that Becker’s highlights as must-have attributes can be found here.
Influence and Intuition
B.E. Smith, a health care leadership search firm, has published its own list of essential attributes in a white paper titled “Top 10 Skills of High-Performing Healthcare Leaders.” Many of these skills depend somewhat on the individual’s personality, experience, and the real-world scenarios.
Consider, for example, the skill of “being courageous in the face of risk.” Demonstrating this ability depends in large part on the risk tolerance of the organizational culture, and health care is, by nature, risk adverse. Each leader must gauge what is realistically possible — as well as what feels right — in terms of moving forward with new ideas.
The interplay of opportunity, vision, influence and change across the 10 skills shared by B.E. Smith can be an important study for the MHA degree student and aspiring leader. Download the PDF of the white paper to learn more.