23X—The Fine Line Physician Leaders Walk

Monday, March 28th

About the Session

This program explains how physician leaders often work in an “in-between” world where their roles and functions are blurred and unclear. Two factors cause this: ambiguous roles and the demands of adaptive challenges. Participants will learn to recognize these challenges and discover techniques to prevent them. With the significant growth of physician leaders comes the question of what or for whom do physician leaders represent? Are physician leaders merely the “chief union stewards” for physicians, representing and advocating solely for the rank-and-file clinical physicians? Or, are they representatives of administration and the C-suite, functioning as organizational leaders who create and endorse broad policy and execute strategic plans? Or, is there a middle ground in which physician leaders serve as intermediaries or envoys, helping to mediate conflict between two opposing parties? Clearly, physician leaders walk a fine line and the ability to carve out a clear role and play it well is critical to the success of all physician leaders.

Physicians have always been at the forefront of healthcare; essentially, they are the ones who drive most of the decisions that pertain to care, quality and costs. The ability of physician leaders to reshape organizational structure; to ensure that authority and responsibility are clearly defined; and to ensure optimum quality, safety, and cost management is critical. These are adaptive challenges. Organizations face two types of challenges: those that are technical, where a clear roadmap to follow exists, and those that are adaptive, which provoke unease, stress or anger. Adaptive challenges have multiple solutions and often upend long-standing traditions and deeply held beliefs. Addressing them takes time and usually a good deal of dialogue about what is changing and why. Physician leaders must become experts at managing adaptive change. They can do this by better delineating their roles and ensuring that the physician collective understands the need for increased physician leadership and how it will help them in their clinical practices.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discover how to address adaptive challenges and gain credibility by helping groups come together, hash out divergent views and make decisions collectively.
  • Explore the importance of assigning authority commensurate with responsibility to reduce ambiguity and accountability.


Presented By

Carson F. Dye, FACHE

Exceptional Leadership LLC

Kathleen Forbes, MD, FAAFP, FACHE

Executive Vice President/Operations Academic Facilities/Vice Chancellor/Health Affairs UTHSC
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System