Your medical director’s leadership sets the tone for the entire emergency department. A medical director who understands both the daily realities of clinical work and the operational and financial realities your hospital faces is critical to the effective development of your emergency department. While leadership is not the focus of medical school, that does not mean you cannot find a medical director with leadership experience or develop your current medical director to lead your emergency department.
Essential traits of effective medical directors include:
- Leads by example (not word alone)
- Willing to defer credit to team members rather than taking credit
- Ability to have positive conversations about conflict
- Ability to communicate department vision, goals, and progress toward achieving those goals
- Servant leadership mindset (believes he/she works for the team rather than the team working for him/her)
- Is comfortable leaving their title and ego at the door and working alongside their team in the trenches
- Willingness to be open and vulnerable with team members
- Open to receiving and sharing both positive and negative feedback
- Invested in seeking and acting on the input of every member of the team
- Positive mindset, views challenges as opportunities to improve
All effective leaders establish trust. The above list includes foundational traits leaders who have the unwavering trust of their team and peers embody. If your emergency department leadership is not trusted, you must resolve that issue with coaching, mentoring, or a leadership change before your department will be able to realize its potential.