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Thoughts and ideas from The Physician Executive
Does physician leadership coaching have any value?
July 5, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by The Physician Executive
physician leadership coach

Why should I engage a physician leadership coach?

Physicians are smart well-trained professionals who are not in the habit of asking for help. They’re accustomed to being viewed as the problem-solvers rather than the seekers of advice or assistance. So why would they consider physician leadership coaching?

The case for physician leadership coaching can be made by examining results documented in other industries that use executive coaching to develop their folks.

Reported results include:

  • increased productivity
  • increased teamwork
  • improved working relationships with peers, direct reports, clients
  • significant ROIs (returns on investment)

We physicians already know that we came out of med school and residency trained to handle acute abdomens, comas, broken bones or febrile convulsions, but were never taught how to handle the challenges our fellow humans present in our daily professional relationships. Nor were we encouraged to deeply examine our own lifestyle and professional desires, needs, or goals.

And when we step out of full-time clinical practice and into leadership and even executive roles, this failure of our clinical training can suddenly become glaring.

I’m asked all the time what goes on in physician leadership coaching.

There are three main approaches:

  1. to help acquire skills
  2. to act as a sounding board
  3. to create a developmental plan for exponential growth as a physician leader

Sounds a little dry to me, so here is my take on it:

  • at its core, coaching is an intimate helping relationship, built on trust, openness and a willingness to challenge the “status quo”

  • this means helping you get unstuck, get clear, or get into action

  • coaching involves asking the kinds of questions that provoke reflection and a re-evaluation of your assumptions

  • it demands that the coach use a special kind of listening, uncontaminated by his or her agenda for the client, but focusing instead on what lies deeper within your heart or spirit

  • as warm and fuzzy as that sounds, coaching only works if it sets high standards and expects rigor and discipline on the part of both players – your coach and you, the client. It is not for the faint-hearted or lazy!

  • good coaching doesn’t avoid feelings but, unlike therapy or counseling, explores your feelings as a way to address procrastination, hesitation and ambivalence. It aims for results, rather than trying to fix what is broken

  • coaching and therapy are wonderfully complementary

  • coaching relies on accountability and action — making changes, making things happen, by mutual agreement

  • a really good coach is much more of an “equal partner-in-exploration” than a know-it-all teacher or consultant on a pedestal

  • coaches know that your best answers lie within you – we’re there to help patiently and persistently draw them out because we see your capabilities and magnificence often much better than you can!

  • your coach should be a resource for brainstorming and directing you to tools, information, books, other experts, etc.

  • coaching is typically very enjoyable – who doesn’t want to be exploring dreams, shooting for happiness, maximizing potential??

Part genie, part annoying gnat, part honest mirror, part sergeant major, part blankie — that’s your physician leadership coach!