Tips for aspiring medical leaders
We have had the pleasure of speaking with many medical leaders of our podcast series, video interviews and various other articles. Given the vast experience they have across medical administration, executive positions and academic leadership, we ask each of them what their tips for aspiring medical leaders would be. In this series we speak with Dr Mark Lubliner, Chief Medical Officer at Austin Health; Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney; Dr Shane Kelly, Group CEO of St John of God Health Care; Dr Andrew Montague, CEO of Central Coast Local Health District, Dr Tony Sherbon, Former CEO of ACT Health & SA Health; and Professor Julian Wright, Head of Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne.
We also asked Ccentric Group Managing Director, Wayne Bruce, for his advice to aspiring leaders:
My best advice for anyone aspiring to better their career is to ensure you are doing something you enjoy and are passionate about – if you’re not, it might be time to consider a change. Like many people, I “fell” into executive search, it was not a planned career move. However, on entering the industry, I was fortunate enough to have found what I consider my calling or vocation. This is especially so given that Ccentric’s focus is on the healthcare sector – every placement we make has an impact on people’s lives and so we can be proud that we make our own small but important contribution to the betterment of the community through what we do every day.
Dr Mark Lubliner, Chief Medical Officer, Austin Health
I think listen to others around you they may not have all the answers but I think the more you can listen rather do the talking.
I think the natural way to learn and to really listen and really hear my approach has always been grab every opportunity with open hands so regardless of you know how painful or annoying that particular task might be or how busy you are on every task activity is a learning opportunity. So grab the open arms. There’s always something to learn. And I think finally I don’t aspire to get to the top where the top is too fast. I think it is a journey. I’ve been fortunate to meander through a range of different roles.
Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney
You know I would say. Just do it. I think. Because it’s a lot of people wait for. Permission or to be asked to be a leader. They sort of try to think it’s something that you that being leaders that you just go step up and do it. So if you want to change the world or even change your own environment or do something differently you’ve just gotten to it. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t wait to get a tap on the shoulder or permission. Just put yourself out there and try and make a difference.
Dr Andrew Montague, CEO, Central Coast LHD
What are your top tips for aspiring leaders? How can they break through to the executive ranks?
The most important advice is to be resilient and confident in your ability. In order to break through the ranks, it’s all about ensuring you have the right experience to back it up. On top of that, make sure you always take the opportunity to put your hand up when project roles come up. This will allow you to start forming a good network of contacts, so you have more opportunities to put yourself in the right place to secure the role you want.
Dr Shane Kelly, Group CEO, St John of God Health Care
Put up your hand when good opportunities present themselves and in the words of a mentor, “go at it with your ears pinned back”.
Work hard – there is no substitute for this, experience is what counts.
Be decisive – people expect this from their leaders and get frustrated and disengaged if you don’t make timely decisions.
Humility and respecting your peers and staff will help you get to where you want to go.
Professor Julian Wright, Head Department of Rural Health, University of Melbourne
If you aspire to lead then that needs to be planned as is the case with all aspects of your career.
My top tip would be to seek mentorship from someone you trust and who knows you well. If you aspire to be a leader then you need to set out with a clear direction and destination in mind. Seek leadership opportunities, challenges and experiences which, with time, you will become better at negotiating.
Dr Tony Sherbon, Former CEO of ACT Health & SA Health
Build basic competence. So, I think if I was a 20 something year old ambitious healthcare manager, I would ensure that I built my basic competence in the bread and butter of management that people management financial management and development of strategic skills. I’d look for opportunities, depending on your family circumstance of course, but the more young people or aspiring ambitious people look for opportunities in rural Australia to perhaps do a job that would take a long time to get into in a metropolitan setting. Or look for opportunities to provide services in places that are not perhaps as popular to live in as others then you can really make a big difference in your own career by accelerating it and in the end make a big difference to the people that really matter which is the community and patients.
Professor Keith McNeil, Assistant Deputy Director General and CCIO, Queensland Health
My first tip would be to build your networks. Don’t ever underestimate the power of personal interaction and personal contacts for getting things done, so build your networks. The second tip is to get to know yourself well, know what pushes your buttons and what it is about you that pushes other people’s buttons, so you can modify your behaviour to be able to influence effectively. If you can do that, you’ll go a long way to being able to achieve what you set out to assuming that you’re ‘influencing with integrity’. They’re my top tips, and there are a whole lot of other characteristics that people will either have or need to develop. You also need to develop a way of looking after yourself and developing a thick skin on occasion. Building a close network of people that you can reflect with, dump on and give you fearless and honest advice I think is really important, and that’s a network within your bigger network. So they would be my top tips.
Other tips for aspiring leaders:
- When opportunity presents itself, grasp it with both hands. Don’t hold yourself back, be considered but also be brave in pursuing interesting options to develop yourself and broaden your experience, skill set and competencies.
- Most importantly, ensure that you get on with people – of all types and at all levels. The single most important determinant of someone’s future success is the degree to which they are “likable” and trusted and respected by others. Be proud of your successes but also display an appropriate degree of humility and don’t be overly boastful – if you do, people will soon bring you back to earth with a thump.
- Plan your career into the future, your dream job might take 2, 3 or 4 moves to get to, requiring you to move into different companies and/or job roles to acquire the experience and skills needed for whatever that dream is.