Chapter 35: Leadership & Branding

Medical Leadership and Self-Branding

[Transforming the Next-Generation of Physician Executives]

By Eugene Schmuckler

The very essence of leadership is that you must have vision.  You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet – Theodore Hesburgh


A plethora of educational materials have been published on professional career development and leadership skills; far fewer for physicians of course; but the basics remain the same.

Why such a proliferation on this topic?

Perhaps, it is due to the fact that healthcare leadership today is now consider very different from the leadership style of yesterday. Every aspect of leadership has been under intense scrutiny, by employees, industry experts, physician-executives and business management gurus.

Much like health 2.0 today, the very form of leadership is in a state of evolution – changing, modifying and redefining core values. Many leadership theories or models have been developed, revised, reviewed and assessed by the experts. What is needed, therefore, is an integration of several models specifically appropriate for today’s healthcare business environment and modern healthcare executive.   

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16 thoughts on “Chapter 35: Leadership & Branding

  1. On Physician Blogs

    Many people are blogging these days, including physicians. Some say the rapidly expanding medium provides a great opportunity for physician-leaders, and doctors to better educate patients and the public about the practice of medicine.

    But, others warn that medical or just personal opinion blogging, also presents new risks of breaching patient privacy. As blogs proliferate, some hospital privacy officers are considering policies that would provide professional standards for employees engaged in the activity, and protect their institutions from potential violations of HIPAA.

    Dr. Marcinko

  2. Hospital Administrator Bloggers

    • – Formerly Ask a Hospital President
    • Roper on Health
    • Let’s Talk Health Care
    • WakeMed Voices
    • McLeod Health
    • SJMC World
    • Todd’s Perspective
    • More Than Medicine
    • Running a hospital
    • Hospital Life

    Lestor the Lister

  3. Not all good news

    Physicians today are getting burned out and leaving practice. Many are tired of fighting insurance companies and even more are getting discouraged about reductions in reimbursement. The career is not a viable option to consider for offspring; despite this book.

    Feel free to read about another group of physicians who have simply decided to leave clinical medicine to pursue career options in the world of non-clinical medicine.

    Dr. Anonymous

    1. Surfing around I noticed your blog bookmarked as: Blog Archive DSC00247. Now I am assuming you book-marked it yourself and wanted to ask if social book-marking gets you a good deal of targeted visitors? I’ve been thinking of doing some social bookmarking for a few of my websites but wasn’t certain if it would produce any positive results. Many thanks.

  4. More popular healthcare CEOs and their leadership blogs:

    • Paul Levy, President/CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston
    • Bill Roper, CEO of University of North Carolina Health Care System
    • Bruce Bullen, CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
    • Dr. Bill Atkinson, CEO of WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh
    • Marty Bonick, CEO of Jewish Hospital in Louisville
    • Rob Colones, CEO of McLeod Health in South Carolina
    • Scott Kashman, CEO of St. Joseph Medical Center
    • Todd Linden, CEO of Grinnell Regional Medical Center
    • Tom Quinn, CEO of Community General Hospital
    • Francine R. Gaillour MD, physician leadership coach

    Dr. Marcinko


    In a prominent Harvard Business Review publication, “What Makes a Leader”, and book “Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence”, author Daniel Goleman PhD suggested that the desired traits most often sited were intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision. A sufficient level of technical and analytical ability is even more essential now that we have moved into the Health 2.0 era. However, the leadership skills of this era are placing much more emphasis on the so-called ‘soft skills’ or ‘emotional intelligence’ and this may very well be the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding healthcare leaders, and successful physician-executives, from those who are merely adequate.

    Changing Health 2.0 Paradigms

    In the healthcare space, the fundamental shift for physicians and public health professionals occurred in the landmark 2003 Institute of Medicine [OPM] report from Academic Press: Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. A key recommendation was to work on integrating leadership skills and related training within medical, nursing and all allied healthcare programs.


    Today, it is common to have three generations represented in any healthcare organization. We have the Baby-Boomers, Gen X [generation following the baby boom (especially Americans and Canadians born in the 1960s and 1970s)] and now, Gen Y [Millennial Generation, Echo Boomers or the Trophy Generation]. This newest generation of physicians has grown up with Facebook and Google, with Twitter and YouTube. They “get” the technology, but don’t always understand how its use affects their efforts to forge identities as medical professionals.

    Generations X and Y have a very strong work ethic but seek balance and satisfaction their work and professional lives. And, this is applicable to both men and women. According to Bruce Tuglan, a consultant who works with younger generations opines that that Gen X and Y are going to be:

    “The most high-performing civic-minded workforce in the history of the world, but they are also going to be the most high-maintenance workforce in the history of the world.”

    Gen Y is completely unchained and comfortable with Health 2.0 initiatives. They’ve been using technology for years, now. So, rather than trying to get them to conform to traditional healthcare models, and society membership, they should be empowered to lead the way themselves into the future.

    On the other hand, the Baby Boomer generation is saying with some sadness, “Medicine sure isn’t want it used to be!”, while Generation X is saying “It’s about time things changed!” and the latest generation to enter the medical workforce, Gen Y’s, are saying “Ready or not, we’re here, get used to it”.

    Each generation is extraordinarily complex, bringing various skills, expertise and expectations to the medical work environment. Determining the best methods to unite such diverse thinking is one of the many challenges faced by healthcare leaders. Is it any wonder that many leaders in the Baby Boomer generation find themselves at a loss? The days of functional leadership are gone and suddenly, no one cares about the expertise of the Baby Boomers or how they climbed the corporate ladder, in medicine, or elsewhere. The concept of ‘paying your dues’ is as foreign to the younger generations as is life without email, wikis or social networks.

    Still not convinced?

    Just think about the election of Barack H. Obama as 44th president of these United States. Leadership in the era of Health 2.0 is no longer about controlling or dictating with intense focus on the bottom line; it is about collaboration, empowerment and communication.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA

  6. New Rules of Physician-Executive Leadership

    There are more than 900,000 physicians in the United States.

    Yet, the brutal supply and demand/demographic calculus of the matter is that there are just too many aging patients chasing too few doctors. Compensation and reimbursement is plummeting as Uncle Sam becomes the payer-of-choice for more than 52% of us. Furthermore, in recent years, many large healthcare corporations, hospitals, clinical and medical practices have not been market responsive to this change. Some physicians with top-down business models did not recognize the changing healthcare ecosystem or participatory medicine climate. Change is not inherent in the DNA of traditionalists.

    These entities and practitioners represented a rigid or “used-to-be” mentality, not a flexible or “want-to-be” mindset. Yet today’s physicians and emerging Health 2.0 initiatives must possess a market nimbleness that cannot be recreated in a command-controlled or collectivist environment.

    Going forward it is not difficult to imagine the following rules for the new virtual medical culture, and physician-executive leader.

    [A] Rule No. 1

    Forget about large office suites, surgery centers, fancy equipment, larger hospitals and the bricks and mortar that comprised traditional medical practices. One doctor with a great idea, good bedside manners or competitive advantage, can outfox a slew of insurance companies, CPAs or the AMA, while still serving patients and making money. It’s now a unit-of-one economy where “ME Inc.”, is the standard. Physicians must maneuver for advantages that boost their standing and credibility among patients, peers and payers. Examples include patient satisfaction surveys; outcomes research analysis, evidence-based-medicine, direct reimbursement compensation, physician economic credentialing and true patient centric medicine.

    For example, physicians should realize the power of networking, vertical integration and the establishment of virtual offices that come together to treat a patient and then disband when a successful outcome is achieved. Job security is earned with more successful outcomes; not a magnificent office suite or onsite presence.

    [B] Rule No. 2

    Challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the traditional box, recapture your dreams and ambitions, disregard conventional gurus and work harder than you have ever worked before. Remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”. Do traditionalists or collective healthcare reform advocates react rationally; or irrationally?

    For example, some healthcare competition and career thought-leaders, like Shirley Svorny PhD, a professor of economics and chair of the Department of Economics at California State University, Northridge wonder if a medical degree is a barrier – rather than enabler – of affordable healthcare. An expert on the regulation of health care professionals, including medical professional licensing, she has participated in health policy summits organized by Cato and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She argues that licensure not only fails to protect consumers from incompetent physicians, but, by raising barriers to entry, makes health care more expensive and less accessible. Institutional oversight and a sophisticated network of private accrediting and certification organizations, all motivated by the need to protect reputations and avoid legal liability, offer whatever consumer protections exist today.

    [C] Rule No 3

    Differentiate yourself among your healthcare peers. Do or learn something new and unknown by your competitors. Market your accomplishments and let the world know. Be a non-conformist. Conformity is an operational standard and a straitjacket on creativity. Doctors must create and innovate, not blindly follow entrenched medical societies into oblivion.

    For example, the establishment of virtual medical schools and hospitals, where students, nurses and doctors learn and practice their art on cyber-entities that look and feel like real patients, can be generated electronically through the wonders of virtual reality units.

    [D] Rule No 4

    Realize that the present situation is not necessarily the future. Attempt to see the future and discern your place in it. Master the art of quick change with fast but informed decision making. Do what you love, disregard what you don’t, and let the fates have their way with you. Then, decide for yourself if you are of this ilk – and adhere to the above rules? In other words; get fly!

    Or, become an employed, or government doctor. Just remember that the entity that can give you a job, can also take it away.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA

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  7. Some “movers and shakers”:

    Dr. Val Jones
    Better Health
    Twitter: @drval

    Evan Steele
    EMR Straight Talk
    Twitter: @Evan_Steele

    John Moore
    Chilmark Research
    Twitter: @john_chilmark

    Anthony Guerra
    Health System CIO
    Twitter: @Anthony_Guerra

    John Lynn
    EMR and HIPAA
    Twitter: @techguy


  8. Health Leadership Development

    The Danile F. Hanley MD Center, and the Institute for Civic Leadership are proud to invite applications for Maine’s fourth statewide Health Leadership Development (HLD) class. Thirty-two experienced leaders will be selected in in the HLD class that kicks off its 15 day program in late September, 2010 in Hallowell, Maine. Nearly 100 leaders from across the state have participated in the HLD program since its creation in 2007.


  9. More Thoughts on Healthcare Executive Leadership

    The healthcare organizational changes necessary for good operational performance rarely occur without some initiative on the part of upper management. If you want good financial performance, you need to assert the leadership necessary to design and implement needed changes in operations management.

    But, healthcare leadership today is not something that is done to people; it is something you do with them. Today’s successful hospital, nurse or physician executive must act more like a leader and mentor, and less like an administrator or manager. They must create trust and collaboration to empower their professional staff, volunteers, and employees.

    For some healthcare executives, this requires a fundamental shift in mindset. This new mentoring paradigm demands a holistic approach for the total healthcare organization so that the enterprise-wide environment assists everyone to realize their full potential. This maximization of performance is more than just a trendy business concept for leadership. And, it is more than merely putting on a business suit and expecting results. It is a commitment to being a transparent informed leader.

    One of the elements in this shift in mindset involves information communication. All relationships involve communication as an element of education, and healthcare leadership is no exception. In fact, what is really enabling is the dissemination of information to all stakeholders and peers. In essence, the physician leader takes on a more communicative role and thus empowers employees to their full potential.

    To successfully achieve this, the hospital, nurse or physician executive must have a clear understanding of self and consider human values relative to the role of the health organization measurements and mission. This attention assists the executive to lead with self-confidence and to encourage differing opinions, rather than the opposite.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

  10. More on Healthcare Leaders

    A healthcare leader is a constant teacher, one who is willing to teach and adapt regularly.

    Great leaders are aware of their team’s strengths and weaknesses and they take conscious steps to address these. Great leaders create one-on-one opportunities to help their team members nurture their personal growth and skill sets. They take the time to lead the team with new learning opportunities. They bring fresh ideas to their teams regularly. They understand that teaching new skills takes commitment—a worthwhile investment in creating great visionaries.


  11. On Medical Leadership Mistakes
    [A List of Attributes to Avoid]

    By Dr. David E. Marcinko, MBA, CMP™
    By Prof. Hope Hetico, RN, MHA, CMP™

    When it comes to leadership development, executive training and self-branding, medical entrepreneurs and practitioners need to strive to avoid what John Zenger PhD and Joseph Folkman PhD describe as the 10 most common leadership shortcomings which is based on the results 360 degree feedback on over 11,000 leaders.

    The Drawbacks

    1. Lack energy and enthusiasm
    2. Accept their own mediocre performance
    3. Lack clear vision and direction
    4. Have poor judgment
    5. Don’t collaborate
    6. Don’t follow the standards they set for others
    7. Resist new ideas
    8. Don’t learn from mistakes
    9. Lack interpersonal skills
    10. Fail to develop others.

  12. The Brand “Dr. U”

    As a doctor, your brand is what defines you as a medical professional and influences how you are perceived by your office, patients, colleagues, hospitals and healthcare facilities, insurers, and other stakeholders.

    But, building a brand name, like building a house, is an evolving process that doesn’t happen overnight — but it can be destroyed overnight.

    Take care.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

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