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The Lucrative Difference Between Boss and Leader

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

6 Origami paper boats in formation with the leader in red paperAs we visit with doctors and healthcare practices around the country, it’s usually easy to sense excellence in organizational leadership…or problems. Fortunately, the good examples shine through with a culture of talented people—the doctor, management and staff—working in a positively charged atmosphere that you can almost feel in the air.

But then there are the not-so-good business environments with an unspoken static atmosphere. These are equally talented individuals, but the harmonious feel to the practice is obviously missing. There’s much more to making a proper diagnosis, but drilling down on the issues, the tough spot is often the difference between management and leadership.

Management and leadership are not the same critter. I like Peter Drucker’s contrast: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” As one example, there’s the highly organized office that is rigidly “managed.” Operational steps, procedures and routines are proscribed in never-to-vary detail.

In concept, there’s nothing wrong with good organization—until or unless both staff and management are locked into a rigid and static atmosphere. In this illustration, the penalty of management over leadership is a loss of personal pride in work, insensitivity to customer service and patient experience. Staff turnover is higher.

Be a leader, not a boss…

The most common differences between “boss” and “leader” include:

  • A boss knows how it’s done, but a leader shows how it’s done
  • A boss drives employees while a leader coaches
  • A boss commands and says “go,” but a leader asks, and says “let’s go”
  • A boss depends on authority while a leader depends on goodwill

Fortunately, good leadership training for doctors and their staff can inspire an amazing cultural shift, a greatly improved work environment and a new, harmonious feel to the practice that patients detect and appreciate.

Our training for health care providers and staff teaches leadership skills, including how to empower and develop others as leaders. A well-trained staff and top-level leadership create a more successful and lucrative practice.

And for further reading on this topic, see: 10 Leadership Habits of Marketing-Savvy Physicians.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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