RBMA: 7 Leadership Tips to Improve Your Practice

August 6, 2020
Whitney J. Palmer

From fashioning a vision to creating a cohesive team to fixing problems, these leadership strategies can strengthen your practice and improve productivity.

Maybe you pursued a leadership role in your practice. Maybe you stumbled into one by accident or out of necessity. How you came into the position is less important than how well you execute it – but not everyone innately knows how to be effective as the person in charge.

To put you on the path for being a better leader, Mary Kelly, Ph.D., CSP, retired U.S. Navy Commander, offered seven tips during an Aug. 5 Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) PaRADigm Shift 2020 virtual meeting session that can strengthen your leadership skills and put your practice and your staff and colleagues on a road to greater productivity.

“People want to do a good job for you, but sometimes the processes aren’t in place to make that happen. So, it’s a struggle,” she said. “Your physicians, staff, and patients are looking to you for solutions.”

Here is what she outlined:

Have a vision: Mission statements are great, she said, but you need a vision for your practice. Where do you want your practice to be, and what do you want for your colleagues?

“Employees need a leader to have a clear, forward-thinking vision,” Kelly explained.

Identifying your vision is not difficult, but there are several things to consider. Take the time to think about what your practice currently does and what major changes might be coming your way. Outline your service goals for the next five, 10, and 20 years, and craft the legacy you would like to leave. Consider what you would do with your practice if you had no constraints, and use these thoughts to fashion your vision.

Foster Trust and Communication: According to Kelly, 58 percent of most employees have reported they would trust a complete stranger before they would trust their boss. You can avoid falling into this category by being truthful, providing information, and respecting your employees’ time. Avoid creating uncertainty and only set attainable goals. Do not gossip, name call, or make your employees and peers feel you are disloyal.

“Small things can lead to big problems,” she said. “But, with your words and with your behaviors – the more attention you give and the more you show that your employees’ opinions matter – the more they will trust you.”

Minimize Distractions: Try to eliminate any confusion in your staff about priorities by providing clear guidance toward goals, and remove any protocols or processes that might impede progress. Help you employees stay focused by checking in with them more frequently, and give them smaller goals so they can see more accomplishments.

Demonstrate Care: Actively show people that their presence and their contributions matter to you and your practice, Kelly advised.

“Your job is to care about the people who give you their time,” she said. “If you don’t show you care, they will quickly stop caring.”

One of the best ways you can demonstrate that you care is to streamline policies that can help you employees re-claim some of their time during the day, showing them you value their time and allowing them to be more productive. And, take the time to acknowledge their work.

Be Fair: Even if you are not unfair with your employees, Kelly explained, it is possible they can misconstrue your actions as being that way. But, you can side-step this problem. When you make decisions or announce changes, share your reasons for doing so, and work to equally distribute responsibility throughout the office. Be sure you are not focusing too much on the staff you consider to be your “go-to” employees – as for input or volunteers when new projects or initaitives arise, and hold everyone accountable for their own work and productivity.

Create a Cohesive Team: While energizing your colleagues around a common goal, do not forget to capitalize on their unique characteristics and skills, Kelly said.

“Look at your employees and find the magic – embrace their differences because that is what makes them special,” she said. “This is also where you can show them their value, and it will lead to better ideas and fresher perspectives.”

As the leader, it is your job to support everyone within your organization from your direct reports to the patients you serve, and if you show everyone their contributions to the team are appreciated, the group overall will become more tightly knit and effective.

Fix Problems: Focus on the solutions, not the blame when things do not work quite right. This type of mentality will encourage your employees to take risks and think creatively.

“If you blame people, they will probably stagnate,” she said. “And, you need your employees to be innovative so they can better support your patients.”

Above all else, Kelly advised, lead with confidence – not arrogance – and your employees will be motivated to do their best for you.

Read more of Diagnostic Imaging's RBMA coverage here.