4 Skills for Healthcare Leaders

In my opinion, leadership in the healthcare world has seen a drastic shift from just four years ago and it isn’t going back.  The “Good ‘Ol Days” we once knew are now officially gone (I know this may not be breaking news to you if you’re reading this).

For the skeptics out there, I don’t have any scientific research to back this up.  However, when you see the medical world from the eyes of a visiting consultant and interim leader, it is easier to step back and see how fast change is happening. 

For me, it only took a nurse (your nurse maybe?) posting on Facebook about how boring her hospital meeting was…during the meeting.  About 500 of her friends saw it, and they were commenting back.  One of the commentors told her about another job opportunity at a neighboring facility. 


It’s things like this that get me thinking.  What will the future be like, and will we be ready?  I was doing some reading last night about future leaders and the skills they will need, and I created my own list of four skills that I think any of us will need to succeed in the future as leaders in a changing industry that will face severe shortages of nurses, doctors, therapists, and others.

  1. Learning on the Fly
  2. Social Media Savvy
  3. A Caring Attitude
  4. “The Champion” Skill

I’d love to hear your thoughts on each of these, as I’d be shocked if someone didn’t have a great 5th skill to add. 

In the coming days, I am going to write a quick series about these four skills and why I think they’re important.  If you’d like to take part in the discussion (or just get the next post via email instead), you can get these posts sent to you by signing up in the upper right of the main page. 

See you tomorrow!


About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He enjoys teaching, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.


With graduation just about 60 or so days away for seniors, I wanted to share some thoughts with any students with an eye towards working in healthcare leadership once they graduate. 

As part of the leadership team at Clear Medical Solutions, I get the opportunity to work with numerous interns that are in school.  Over the years, I’ve developed some thoughts on who will succeed under the pressure that our industry brings and who will not…and who will find a job or not. 

One of the key factors that I look for now when deciding who to mentor is their aversion to risk.  Yes, I believe that practitioners in a clinical setting should avoid risk when treating patients (unless in a research setting), however in the healthcare leadership setting, the same old strategies just aren’t going to work anymore.  Safe is now risky!

Leaders are going to have to try new things and chart new paths, and that will take a “risk neutral” approach versus “risk aversion” at all costs.

One of my favorite writers had this to say about some college students that he ran into, and I see the exact same thing from many students that I find as well:

Anyway, they asked for my advice in finding marketing jobs. When I shared my views (go to a small company, work for the CEO, get a job where you actually get to make mistakes and do something) one woman professed to agree with me, but then explained, “But those companies don’t interview on campus.”

Those companies don’t interview on campus. Hmmm. She has just spent $100,000 in cash and another $150,000 in opportunity cost to get an MBA, but…

The second occurred today at Yale. As I drove through the amazingly beautiful campus, I passed the center for Asian Studies. It reminded me of my days as an undergrad (at a lesser school, natch), browsing through the catalog, realizing I could learn whatever I wanted. That not only could I take classes but I could start a business, organize a protest movement, live in a garret off campus, whatever. It was a tremendous gift, this ability to choose.

Yet most of my classmates refused to choose. Instead, they treated college like an extension of high school. They took the most mainstream courses, did the minimum amount they needed to get an A, tried not to get into “trouble” with the professor or face the uncertainty of the unknowable. They were the ones who spent six hours a day in the library, reading their textbooks.

The best part of college is that you could become whatever you wanted to become, but most people just do what they think they must.

Is this a metaphor? Sure. But it’s a worthwhile one. You have more freedom at work than you think (hey, you’re reading this on company time!) but most people do nothing with that freedom but try to get an A.

Do you work with people who are still in high school? Job seekers only willing to interview with the folks who come on campus? Executives who are trying to make their boss happy above all else? It’s pretty clear that the thing that’s wrong with this system is high school, not the rest of the world.

Cut class. Take a seminar on french literature. Interview off campus. Safe is risky.”  (The Rest can be viewed at http://bit.ly/9uqTxQ)

I agree with Seth, and for all those students out there looking to get into healthcare leadership, you will need to take some risks.  Find a great leader, work an internship for free, build relationships, and think outside of the box…

The education system cannot completely prepare you for what you will need to be in our industry.  For that you will need mentors and experience, and you will probably only find that outside your comfort zone.

Think big.  Take calculated risks.  Be different!

About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives at Clear Medical Solutions, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He enjoys teaching, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.

The Olympics for the Rest of Us

This was a note written earlier by one of the members of our healthcare team. His passionate words do a great job of summarizing the way we feel about our work. We are one team, with one dream. To be the best for YOU and everyone else in the medical field!


For Jenni, Ryan, Jane, Steve, Shannon, Sherry, Ashley, Lindsay, and the others working closely with me on our team.  This “little” note is for you.  You are my fellow Olympians, you are my team!  

This afternoon as I watched the Winter Olympics on TV with my wife and kids, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness or a bit of jealousy about the Olympians’ chance to compete to be the best in the world at what they do. As an athlete in the 80’s, I still remember the thrill of getting ready for the big game and thinking of what that would mean to lose…or more importantly what it would mean to win.

It was a real gut check!

Before games, I would always remember all the hard work that went into training and practicing with the team. Hours and hours would be spent repeating the same drills over, and over, and over again. Muscles burning, sweat pouring down, out of breath…was it worth it?

Well, after a losing effort that same hard work I just mentioned above made a loss even harder and more painful to deal with. BUT, in that moment in time when you win, when the clock hits 00:00 when you’ve got more points, or the when you cross the finish line in first, OH HOW GREAT THAT FEELS!!

Yes, and in that moment of victory, it is the hard work that makes it even sweeter!

However, just like many of us, I am now too old to compete at that level. The stadium lights have dimmed. Echoes of the final buzzer have long since faded and my fellow athletes and I have all retired and join the ranks of fans that once cheered them on to victory.

So it is, that as I watched these Olympians giving their all, many of them for the last time, I felt a little jealous of their chance to work hard to be the best at what they do.

But that’s not it…

As the afternoon continued on, a new idea hit me over the head. Maybe I do actually find myself on a new team. The Clear Medical Solutions team!

Years after I ran my last drill, had my final team practice, and wore that uniform for the last time; I am once again part of a team that is competing at the highest levels to be the very best at what they do.

Yeah, I know it might sound a little crazy.  After all, who really believes that work can be as great as the sports of our youth, or even close to the Olympics? 

But as I gave this crazy idea more thought, I was able to make the connection.

Just like those Olympians who train day in and day out for week and weeks, for years and years, I too get up every morning and work all day (and sometimes evenings too) with an amazing team filled with leaders, nurses, consultants, therapists, staff members, super agents, and all kinds of other great medical people. All focused on one thing.

Being the best we can be.

And just like those athletes, we make mistakes and get exhausted during training. Also, there are injuries and losses that make us sometimes question our abilities to be the best. There are days that I am driven to my knees by a loss, but also there are moments of victory that I am soaring with the birds.

However, despite any bumps in the way and mistakes that I’ve made, one thing is certain: We are on our way to Olympic gold!

To the nurses, therapists, aides, and doctors on the team:  Thank you for your gold medal quality caring for the patients we serve. Behind everything we do, it is the patients that we have in mind. You are the final stage of that goal, and our entire team stands behind you.

To the leaders, consultants, and office experts on the team:  Thank you for helping make the way we care for each other and our patients work better. And thanks for helping make the way we do it more efficient and more compliant with the millions of rules out there.

To the girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, children, friends, siblings, parents, and other family members that have stood behind our team:  Thank you for being there for us day after long day. Just like those Olympic athletes, we are following our dreams and it feels good to have your support. We’re sorry for the days we are stressed out and we’re thankful that you are there to share our victories.

To the leaders that have chosen to work with our team:  Thank you for believing in us and giving our team the opportunity to practice our art and do what we love. We never forget that it is your trust in us that makes this all possible, and we appreciate you for that.

To each of my teammates, partners, clients, and supporters I want to say “Thank You”! It continues to be the thrill of a lifetime, and we are making a real different not only in the lives of patients everywhere, but in the lives of each other.

And that is something just as special to celebrate!

To everyone else that is out there competing for “Olympic Gold” in your area of passion, keep at it. In this economy I see a lot of people questioning themselves and their abilities. Stick with what you love, and keep your chin up! We still live in the land of opportunity, and I know for a fact that when you mix very hard work with passion, you get something truly golden.

As you cheer for your favorite athletes as they compete in the Olympics, I hope you will remember our team too. We continue working towards the gold medal, towards that goal of being the very best in the world. I hope you will cheer for us, share our story, or even join us if you share our passion for people.

Have a great weekend and I hope you enjoyed the Winter Games!

Social Networking for CFO's?

As the new chairman of the Electronic Communications committee at the HFMA chapter in Wisconsin, I’ve gotten a chance to observe and discuss social networking with a wide range of financial leaders.  One of the things I’ve noticed is that many CFO’s are not as active on social media as other folks in the “C Suite”. 

The article below would suggest some reasons why that might be:


Although it cautions financial leaders against divulging too much info, it also reminds us that companies may be making a mistake if they don’t get involved or prohibit the use of social media outlets:

“More importantly, prohibiting the use of social media can make a company uncompetitive. The survey by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law found that 80% of U.S. executives believe that social media can enhance relationships with customers or clients, 81% think it can build brand reputation, and nearly 70% networking can be valuable in recruitment. The most popular vehicles being used include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and blogs (in that order).”

With the various staffing shortages soon to be re-emerging as a major issue, I wonder if senior leaders may be rethinking their involvement.  I’m really curious what sort of experiences others have had.  Feel free to email me at Aaron@ClearMedicalSolutions.com if you have any thoughts.


About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives at Clear Medical Solutions, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He enjoys teaching, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.

A Clear approach to Team Building

At Clear Medical Solutions, we’re always trying to stay on top of best practices and cutting edge techniques that not only make a difference in the healthcare industry, but are cost effective as well.

Lately, we’ve worked with some of the pioneers in the Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) field to Clear Medical Solutions Team Building With Horsesdevelop a team building solution for healthcare teams that utilizes horses and all of their instincts as the primary teacher.  We’ve used it with several groups so far, and the response is nothing short of amazing! 

For less than half the cost of other team building services, your team can engage in experiential learning and have a lot of fun!  Not only will they learn more about their fellow “teammates”, but in the process, they will learn more about themselves and other’s perceptions of them. 

We’re calling the solution Clear Team Building, and it is now available to all groups accross the United States.  We are signing up new horse farms and ranches, and are ready to provide an amazing team building solution to your group needs.  For more information, check out the webpage here:


Two Questions:

1)  Has anyone out there seen this sort of team building technique before?

2)  What sort of questions would  you have about this idea?