Posted October 15, 2015

Developing and Empowering Front Line Leaders

By Regina Shupe

Solid leadership creates results that last. However, many healthcare professionals are moved into leadership roles without the skills needed to succeed. Studer Group has long coached organizations to develop and train leaders through regularly scheduled, two‐day leadership training sessions, known as Leadership Development Institutes (LDIs). The purpose of these training events is to develop new, current and future leaders in the organization. The curriculum aligns to the goals of the organization and focuses on the skills and knowledge leaders need to be successful in meeting such goals.

What we typically find, however, is that front line leaders, those who may not hold traditional leadership titles (such as manager or director), are often not included in these trainings. Charge nurses or department supervisors are prime examples. Do your front line leaders have basic knowledge regarding the external environment? What about strategies and techniques to effectively communicate with peers, staff and providers? To address this gap, Front Line Leadership Educational Boot Camps (FLLEBC) were created specifically to enhance the leadership skills of those leading closest to the staff and patients.

The Front Line Leadership Educational Boot Camps were designed to provide front line leaders training in four key areas: understanding the external environment, foundational leadership skills, how to coach performance, and how to conduct difficult conversations. Let’s look at each of these a little closer.

  • Understanding the external environment. The healthcare environment is constantly changing, which requires leaders to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. Understanding the impact of items such as Value-Based Purchasing, HCAHPS, reimbursement and so on, is crucial to the role of front line leaders.
  • Foundational leadership skills. Many front line leaders are promoted into leadership positions because they are excellent clinicians. This doesn’t always mean they know how to develop and motivate staff, or connect the dots on why certain organizational goals are important.
  • How to coach on performance. Moving from “buddy” to “boss” can be a difficult transition for new supervisors or charge nurses. For many front line leaders, it may be uncomfortable to mentor or coach staff on their performance, especially when opportunities for improvement are present.
  • Conducting difficult conversations. Building this skill is necessary to ensure front line leaders are equipped to have confident and professional conversations with staff. Whether disciplinary or praise conversations, both are essential to this role.

Shining a light on this skills gap is only the first step. Executing the proper training, whether through Front Line Leadership Educational Boot Camps or other training events, is crucial to ensuring front line leaders are set up for success in their role. As a result, leaders will feel more confident in their abilities to lead staff and develop the next phase of leaders. When all leaders and staff are providing consistent, effective and informed patient care, it creates an excellent environment for patients to receive care, employees to work and physicians to practice medicine.

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