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Managing healthcare is difficult task due to the complexity of such systems. A leader in the healthcare sector is expected to forge relationships and deal with situations where roles are not defined. Just like education and the criminal justice systems, healthcare operates within a changing social, political and economic environment. Many leaders in the healthcare sector have direct experience in patient needs. While such experience is important and necessary, it also differs across patients. Additionally, the workforce in the healthcare industry is often highly educated and such professional education creates a complex nature of relationships. A healthcare leader must understand these intricacies and understand how to build collaborations. The success of any complex system depends largely on the nonlinear interactions of its various components. Such interaction is designed to ensure that the output is greater than the sum of the various components. In healthcare, service delivery is directly related to the survival of the patients hence making leadership a complex process.

Complexity of healthcare
Healthcare is complex largely due to its complicated design and unpredictable nature. Policy makers and healthcare leaders must recognize the system as complex and not complicated in order to mitigate unintended effects of regulation (Harrison, 2009). Consequently, they will use the scientific principles of complexity when operating in the healthcare system. Some of the emerging issues on disease protocols and financial levers in the management of healthcare often have mixed results. In some cases, the clinical measures designed to reduce healthcare variations have not had any noticeable effects. The healthcare system comprises many components (patients, families, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, patient homes and rehabilitation centers) that must interact in a nonlinear fashion at different levels. In order to manage healthcare appropriately, the leader must therefore shift from the mechanical and regulatory style of management to a complex systems approach to management. Goals must be aligned across all sectors and all structural boundaries across the professionals must be eliminated.

The timeliness and efficiency of service provision in the healthcare industry is determined by the nature of the delivery system. The sector is filled with many system inefficiencies and failures, structural barriers and other impediments that hamper the quality of healthcare given to the people (Anderson & McDaniel, 2000). The proliferation of new technologies in diagnosis and treatment has led to an increase in healthcare costs. While these technologies are necessary, they have to be introduced within a system of social and economic realities. Health information technology (HIT) systems have not been fully integrated into the healthcare sector creating many challenges. While technology is intended to improve care and reduce costs, it must be well integrated into the system in order to function appropriately. Part of the complexity of the healthcare system arises from the various competing forces. The health professionals constantly demand for autonomy and better pay, care facilities seek to increase their margins and reduce costs, while consumers need affordable and accessible services. The healthcare leader must therefore be able to balance between these competing needs.

At all levels, healthcare management is a challenging task that requires a leader to have sound technical, conceptual and interpersonal skills in order to fulfill the managerial functions. Like in conventional management, a leader in the healthcare sector is primarily concerned with planning, organizing, controlling, directing and staffing functions (Harrison, 2009). The healthcare system has both internal and external domains which must be carefully coordinated. In hospitals, unplanned changes and conflicts are prone to occur depending in situations. The interdependent relationships in healthcare also lead to various adaptations. From the outside, the healthcare sector may present a façade of a planned system complete with working manuals for workers to follow. However, the system is frequently inundated with unpredictable events where command and control methods do not necessarily work. Every organization is designed to achieve goals and objectives that are beyond the ability of a single individual.

Skills and Competencies
The complex and dynamic nature of healthcare organizations create the need for managers and leaders who are fully acquainted to manage change and transformation. Leadership in the healthcare context is the ability to inspire personal and organizational success by creating a shared vision and managing transformation in order to attain successful performance (Chreim & MacNaughton, 2016). As a result the healthcare leader should be able to communicate well and build relationships. In a hospital environment, a leader should be able to communicate with fellow professionals, subordinate workers, patients, regulatory authorities and the government. The leader should maintain relationships and engage in interactions that can benefit the system. The healthcare leader has a professional responsibility to the patients and the community at large. They must therefore be able to streamline both personal and organizational responsibilities with the ethical underpinnings that guide the healthcare industry. More importantly, the healthcare leader must fully understand the workings of the healthcare system and its various complexities. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

Management in the healthcare context requires a leader to be competent in business principles such as systems thinking. They should apply management techniques and theories into the healthcare scenario to analyze situations and solve problems. Considering the importance of organizational culture, the leader should create an environment founded on transparency, mutual trust and service delivery to the people (Coogle et al., 2008). A leader is expected to inspire change by communicating well and motivating employees to share into the goals and visions of the organization. Most healthcare facilities are very dynamic hence a leader promote a continuous learning culture and respond appropriately to the needs for change. The healthcare system is highly regulated and the leader must be fully understand all the laws and regulations and abide accordingly. The healthcare leader should have financial management skills in order to plan, allocate and monitor the use of resources within the organization.  Similarly, the leader should have skills in human resources management relating to recruitment, selection, motivation and mentoring. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Modern healthcare leaders are expected to demonstrate evidence-based management and measurable outcomes. Large healthcare facilities are the most complex to manage in human history and that even smaller facilities are usually very difficult to manage (Cross, 2007). Leaders in the industry today face many challenges such as shrinking allocations, stringent safety regulations, and constant shortage of professionals. Modern healthcare leaders therefore need to have knowledge in complexity science which goes beyond the traditional approaches to management. An understanding of complexity science will acquaint the leader with knowledge on how universal rules apply and control systems and parts. Complexity science uses machine as an analogy to describe how various complex systems work. It presents a sound framework for understanding complex adaptive systems with a focus on relationships among various components. For instance, a doctor operating within the complex adaptive system will view the patient as more than a specimen but as part of a family, social and political environment.

Leadership Style
The complexity of healthcare greatly influences the type of leadership in the sector. While the principles of management remain the same in every environment, the style of leadership is affected by situations and circumstance. In healthcare administration, the leader should have the ability to change styles based on the prevailing situations and employee relationships (Cross, 2007). Beyond the various styles of leadership, the healthcare leader is expected to lead by example. They should portray and exemplify the right qualities that can inspire change and create positive working environment. Consequently, the qualities of integrity, ethics and respect are highly important as defining attributes of the leader. The healthcare leader is expected to make fair decisions that are good to both the facility and the community. In addition, healthcare is strongly anchored on practices, rules and regulations which must be implemented successfully. The leader must always follow ethical choices, confidentiality and mutual respect when handling situations. The new challenges inherent in healthcare have shifted healthcare leadership from a one-way approach to a range of methods and approaches. In many respects, management should be continuously improved in the face of emerging issues. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Many countries are experiencing changes and reforms in the healthcare sector. Various recommendations have been made as a way of improving the sector. The role of healthcare leaders in implementing these reforms must always be underscored. The leaders should understand the need to deliver the best forms of leadership that motivates staff amidst the changing landscape (Coogle et al., 2008). Leadership must capitalize on the great diversities seen in healthcare and efficiently utilize resources while focusing on quality service delivery. There is a strong link between healthcare leadership and the important outcomes within the system such as patient mortality, financial performance, patient satisfaction and employee turnover. The challenges and complexities evidenced in the healthcare sector are too grave that leadership cannot simply be left to chance. The system should have functional approaches to nurture and develop leaders, to provide strategies for leadership and support their work.

Healthcare transformation can be best achieved through a number of leadership styles. Transformational leadership theory is a traditional method that focuses on the need to inspire employees through a sense of mission (Silber, 2008). The healthcare leader is expected to communicate the mission and vision in a way that bonds all employees together. Transformational leaders work by motivating employee performance and influencing their behavior and attitudes. In a healthcare environment, challenges and situations create a need constant decision making. The leader must therefore empower his employees to pursue that transformation whenever necessary. The healthcare leader should always ensure the constant supply of replacement leaders by empowering staff and nurturing them to be leaders on their own. The healthcare environment is constantly changing hence there is an important need to ensure its constant progress through sound leadership.

Similarly, collaborative leadership can be applied in the healthcare environment as a means to pursue transformation. Collaborative leadership is where people work together towards common goals (Chreim & MacNaughton, 2016). The leader encourages the various employees and sectors to make their own informed decisions and offers guidance where necessary. Collaborative leadership helps in improving healthcare management by promoting communication among the various stakeholders and enabling the sharing of knowledge. Any leadership style within the healthcare system should be designed to reduce the level of complexity. Collaborative leadership requires that all parties work together so that processes are implanted successfully. The collaboration helps to promote mutual understanding while facilitating the integration among the various stakeholders. Many autonomous healthcare professionals who are directly responsible for their patients have been seen not to respond effectively to autocratic leadership. Since many healthcare professionals are highly qualified, shared leadership can help in healthcare transformation. Leadership must seek to develop shared relationships through delegation and support. This in turn, will help to facilitate shared governance, improve working relationships and promote continuous learning. Shared leadership empowers the staff to be decision makers. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

Leadership is therefore an important aspect in healthcare arising from the complex nature of the modern healthcare environment. The healthcare sector is more complex today than it was before. The changing policies, regulations and technologies in the industry only add to this challenge. As a result, healthcare leadership must be given more attention since leaders are charged with a duty to manage change. Leadership development is a continuous process and should always take account of the changing situations in the healthcare sector. The leaders must have the right training, skills and competencies in order to navigate through the challenges seen in modern healthcare. It is also important to realize that healthcare is a complex rather than complicated system where processes are not streamlined.


Anderson, R. & McDaniel, R. (2000). Managing Health Care Organizations: Where Professionalism Meets Complexity Science. Health Care Management Review25(1), 83-92. doi:10.1097/00004010-200001000-00010

Chreim, S. & MacNaughton, K. (2016). Distributed leadership in health care teams. Health Care Management Review41(3), 200-212. doi:10.1097/hmr.0000000000000073

Coogle, C., Jablonski, R., Rachel, J., & Parham, I. (2008). Skills-Enhancement Training Program for Home Care Providers: Implications for Redefining Quality Care. Home Health Care Management & Practice20(4), 312-322. doi:10.1177/1084822307310762

Cross, S. (2007). Integrating Primary Health Care – Leading, Managing, FacilitatingIntegrating Primary

Health Care – Leading, Managing, Facilitating. Nursing Standard21(18), 31-31. doi:10.7748/ns2007.

Harrison, P. (2009). Managing change in health care. Gastrointestinal Nursing7(6), 46-47.

Silber, G. (2008). Management Styles and Care Dilemmas. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society56(11), 2140-2141.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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