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13 Key Traits for Leadership in Healthcare

By Steve Smith

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.


February 23, 2022

6 min read


Today’s leaders in healthcare face unique clinical, financial and administrative challenges. They must balance the competing demands of tight budgets and patient well-being while navigating compliance, safety and privacy regulations, as well as the inconsistencies in health insurance coverage. From managing teams to making critical decisions, healthcare leaders need a strong set of soft skills to effectively do their jobs. 


In this article, we’ll examine 13 key leadership qualities in healthcare and how they can help you succeed while inspiring and motivating those around you.

1. Communicates Effectively

The Center for Organizational Management & Effectiveness (COME) includes communication on its list of important qualities for leadership in healthcare because to succeed, you must be able to demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills. In a healthcare leadership role, precision is important. Communicating crucial information about insurance plans, benefits, medication, patient treatment plans or compliance requires accuracy and clarity. 

Communicating with administrative team members requires professionalism and the expression of mutual respect. Fostering teams of strong communicators involves helping them to navigate complex information and offering guidance on policies and procedures. Keeping team members well informed shows more than just great communication skills, but also demonstrates empathy and accountability.

2. Practices Humility

Acknowledging and accepting responsibility for your mistakes, giving others credit where credit is due and staying grounded even after an administrative win brings on the urge for an end-zone celebration dance are all examples of practicing humility in leadership. It’s an important leadership trait in any setting because it encourages people to reach their full potential, thereby benefiting the entire organization. By staying humble, you quietly command the respect of others and foster a more collaborative atmosphere. 

3. Demonstrates Empathy

Leading with empathy is a particularly important characteristic for effective healthcare leaders since you’re frequently working with patients and families facing challenging health conditions and experiencing a range of emotions including grief, pain, frustration and even anger. By empathizing and leading with compassion, healthcare professionals can help support the emotional needs of these community members. Empathy can also help you develop meaningful professional relationships that support their organizations and keep them moving forward toward accomplishing goals. 

4. Delegates Strategically

When a good leader knows when to delegate, the entire team benefits. That’s because smart delegation enables each team member to contribute and cooperate toward the completion of a common goal. To be an effective leader, it’s important for you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of your team members so you can delegate tasks strategically, in a way that maximizes productivity and allows the team to collectively perform to the best of its abilities. Another benefit to effective delegation is that it shows that you have confidence in your team’s capabilities. That, in turn, can make team members feel appreciated.

5. Leads with Positivity

Leading with a positive attitude is an important quality in a healthcare organization. Optimistic leaders maintain a positive outlook through changes and challenges, which can be inspiring to your team members, helping them to manage difficulties more effectively and productively. Maintaining a positive and self-confident outlook, even during stressful or unfavorable situations, will enable you to keep your composure and be a better decision-maker. 

6. Sets Ethical Standards

A lack of ethics or honesty in a healthcare leadership setting can have significantly harmful effects on people’s lives. Healthcare leaders who have established a reputation for integrity can set moral and ethical standards for their teams, influencing them to maintain the same level of integrity.

7. Demonstrates Passion

When you are passionate about your work and its potential impact, you are more likely to unify your team as you work toward reaching goals. Once demonstrated, your passion can become contagious, motivating administrative team members, volunteers, community partners and others to become more engaged with your work and the communities your health system serves. 

8. Builds Productive Teams

Fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration should be a priority for every healthcare leader. This collaboration could be limited to members of a tightly knit administrative team or expanded to a cross-departmental partnership or a broader coalition that includes vendors and third-party companies. 

As a creative and broad-minded leader, you need to have a knack for pulling these teams together, working toward a common goal and demonstrating the collaborative attributes you hope to find in each of your team members.

9. Motivates Others

Developing strong motivational skills can help you to prepare to pursue leadership roles in healthcare. Motivational leadership skills, including empathy, positivity, communication, persistence and reliability can help you manage and inspire your team. 

Using these interpersonal skills, you can boost team morale, increase productivity, create a culture of belonging and help team members feel more connected and engaged. 

10. Manages with Emotional Intelligence

While the workplace can be exciting, productive and satisfying, there can also be volatility, conflict and even drama. Emotional intelligence, which is closely related to self-discipline and self-awareness, is an important trait for healthcare leaders because it can help you manage how you react to situations and other people in the workplace. Workplace teams with highly emotionally intelligent people may perform better and have increased job satisfaction. By demonstrating a high degree of emotional intelligence, you can lead by example, setting the tone for the entire team.

11. Raises the Bar with Accountability

Healthcare professionals in leadership positions can be held to a higher standard than their administrative team members. That is why accountability is such an important trait. Being accountable for your actions and admitting when you’ve come up short will reflect favorably upon you and may do some good for your team as well. By demonstrating good values and habits, you can influence others to adopt the same behaviors and elevate the integrity of your entire team. 

12. Uses Tech Savvy To Meet Goals

Technology is used extensively in healthcare, from sophisticated diagnostic imaging systems to electronic health records and mobile health platforms. It can also be a beneficial tool in healthcare leadership. As a tech-savvy leader, you’re able to understand technology and how it can be used to achieve business goals. 

Your familiarity with new technologies could help you find ways to increase efficiency and cost reduction, improve communication and collaboration, enhance decision-making using data and analytical tools, and increase innovation. 

13. Provides Mentorship

Effective healthcare leaders understand the importance of nurturing the next generation of leadership. As a mentor, you can provide encouragement and role modeling to junior team members, boosting their professional knowledge and confidence. Effective mentors understand the mentee’s needs, answer their questions, assess their strengths and weaknesses and support them in acquiring the skills they need to excel in their roles. 

Pursue a Career in Health Services Management

Prepare to pursue careers in medical office supervision, facility direction and marketing, managed care coordination and other health services management careers by earning a degree here at DeVry. If you’re interested in the business of healthcare, our Bachelor’s Degree with a Specialization in Health Services Management can help you learn about business affairs and strategies, budget, technology, human resource planning, organizing patient flow and more. 

We know how important it is to balance your commitment to education with the other aspects of your busy life, that’s why our hands-on programs are available 100% online or in a hybrid format. Classes start every 8 weeks.

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