Often, the words “leader” and “leadership” are mentioned casually. Have you thought for a moment about what a leader is and what real leaders do?
Many leaders in our profession didn’t study leadership in school or as part of an internship. A common definition of a leader is “an individual who influences others towards achieving a specific goal or plan.” One could ask, what is the healthcare technology management (HTM) leader’s role in a changing and uncertain profession?
Equally important to note is that there are various leadership styles (e.g., autocratic, transactional, transformational, charismatic). Some styles are traditional and others—not so much. Each of the leadership styles has its own unique characteristics and to some degree can be applied to different settings or circumstances. This blog post is not meant to describe the type of leadership styles—you can read a book on that. It is about where the HTM leaders vision should be focused on.
Some of the key qualities for a leader are being passionate, having a commitment to improvement, and the ability to communicate as well as build meaningful partnerships. Newcomers to the field can have such attributes. They can be effective leaders with a purpose, plan, and goals. They can dream up what the future can be and what our profession can become. They can help re-engineer technical processes that can affect clinical operations and impact patients and staff.
A manager or director can certainly be a leader, but they don’t have to be. Leadership is often confused with management, but each has a different purpose. An HTM director is a leader when they articulate a vision for his or her organization and team and builds a road map for change with a timeline, direction, goals, and deliverables. Those who are in a managerial role understand that they are accountable for their department’s bottom line, such as the annual budget, daily operational challenges, and meeting regulatory compliance or their organization’s needs.
As leaders, how will we manage the change and uncertainty facing HTM today? We need to explain what is gained by the change, the benefits, and that added value we bring to our organizations. Are we using data to drive our daily decisions? Are we building alliances with other members of the organization as well as external organizations?
HTM leaders can learn from each other. We represent something much more meaningful than equipment repair. Part of our role is to provide clarity of direction about the destination and why we are on a path towards that destination—to explain what is at stake if we do not change and therefore don’t reach the destination. Leadership in the HTM community should be everybody’s business.
Assuming a leadership role should be beyond our professional title, beyond our position of power. It is about taking action.
Salim Kai, MSPSL, CBET, is the biomedical engineering manager with Kettering Health Network in Kettering, OH.