- Make medical leadership attractive. Leaders who speak highly of their positive experiences in leadership roles, citing examples of professional development, personal fulfillment, and service opportunities, are likely to serve as inspiration to those who might consider such roles. On the contrary, referring to leadership as “crossing over to the dark side” or speaking disparagingly about their organization is not helpful.
- Allow opportunities to continue other gratifying professional activities. For many physicians, clinical work is their sweet spot for inspiration and fulfillment. Ensuring opportunities for leaders to continue clinical work not only helps to maintain their credibility among peers, but it also provides oft-needed respite from the unrelenting demands of leadership. Top
- Approach and encourage potential leaders. Physicians, especially women, may not self-identify their own leadership skills and potential. They may wait for affirmation of their suitability for a particular role. They might be in the category of “accidental leaders” waiting to be discovered. Identifying a candidate suitable for a role could awaken a latent interest in leadership.
- Ensure reasonable working hours. As women continue to take on the bulk of domestic and child care responsibilities, they may benefit from flexibility to work some of the time from home, have dial-in or virtual options to join meetings, and anticipate fewer early or late meetings. Providing flexibility might overcome real or perceived barriers to women (and men!) considering leadership roles.
- Mentor leaders at all stages. Mentorship of physicians is helpful to identify opportunities for growth. Women, in particular, benefit from the individual feedback provided by seasoned mentors of either gender. Perceived lack of support in a leadership role is a major deterrent for many women. A supportive mentor can provide a channel for learning and growth.
- Provide leadership training. Leadership is not entirely innate; it employs skills that can be learned. Investing in leadership training pays dividends in creating more effective leaders. Interactive learning opportunities further develop the social networks so important to leaders. Top
- Demonstrate and celebrate successes of medical leaders. Showcase the efforts and successes of formal and informal leaders who have contributed to improvements in the organization. Use awards, publications, display boards, and other means to spread the news of successes. Examine the gender balance of leader profiles in your organization. For example, if your department or faculty has photos of predominantly male forefathers, counter the imbalance with photos of current leaders — assuming, of course, that the gender split will be more even.
- Recognize the importance of leadership through promotions. Reward leaders with tangible recognition such as titles, promotions and advancement in ways that research, innovation and medical education are recognized. While recognition for leadership is not usually the leaders’ motive, it sends an important message throughout the organization that leaders are appreciated and supported.