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Any organizational leadership is faced with numerous challenges at their workplace. These challenges are inclusive of how a leader should relate with other individuals in an organization. This ensures a smooth running of organizational activities. Hence, teamwork provides basic fundamentals in every work setting. Every person in the organization plays an integral role. They need to understand what is expected of them. However, where there are lacks of proper team work, conflicts are prone to arise (Tappen, 1989). This study entails leadership challenges in regard to health institutions.
Healthcare is increasingly complex in both its clinical and administrative scope. Due to this, there is an evolving appreciation to great leadership and teamwork that determines the success of healthcare. Great attention is nowadays being directed towards teamwork and collaboration in many healthcare institutions. These include choosing and training physicians, cultivating a leadership talent pipeline and providing quality and safety patient initiatives
(Lussier & Achua, 2010).
Due to the growing appreciation in the value of team work, the big attention is given to team building methods. These are inclusive of courses based on activity programs. Due to the fact that good team work requires leadership, the development of leadership has become a priority to the success of healthcare institutions.
What Does Team Work entail?
A team is a small number of individuals who have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose and approach that they hold an account for. Effective and efficient teams have specific characteristics which include clarity of purpose, open communication and a commitment to assess their performances. As much as the teamwork is important in many business sectors, it is equally important in healthcare institutions where achieving excellent clinical outcomes requires the contribution of specialized individuals.
Most organizations have two groups of leaders. They are the governing body and senior managers also referred to as the C- suit. If these two groups do not work together, the goals of an organization are most likely not going to be met. A similar case applies to health institutions. A lot of healthcare organizations have third leadership groups who are leaders of the physicians and other licensed groups Howell, Shamir, 2005).
Decisions pertaining the diagnosis and treatment of a patient are mostly done by licensed independent practitioners. The unique role of the licensed independent practitioners has major implications for an organizations ability to attain its goals. Leadership styles can be categorized into two groups: leader-centered and team-centered styles. These two groups use varying approaches in achieving their objectives.
Leader-Centered Approach and its Difference from Team-Centered Leadership Approach to Decision Making
Leader-centered techniques achieve success of an organization through the leader’s self-projection and realization. The techniques are mostly found in institutions that rely on specific directions (Lussier & Achua, 2010).
The leader following this style gives directions to employees. The following are some of the leader-centered styles:
The authoritarian leadership is a type of leader-centered style that represents an absolute power that a leader portrays over his/ her followers. These types of leaders are viewed as experts in an organization. Hence, they are entailed with the responsibility of identifying the goals of an organization and the strategic path it should take so that it can succeed (Lussier & Achua, 2010).
They give their followers clear expectations of what they need to accomplish, how and when it should be done. These types of leaders are often task-oriented and tend to make decisions independently. They do not seek input from their followers (House & Shamir, 1993).
The other form of leader-centered style is the transactional leadership. This form of leadership relies on the belief that employees are employed to their jobs and in return, they are paid for the effort they render. It is expected that the followers should obey their leaders and follow the exact orders that are given to them. This kind of leadership style is mainly concerned with rewarding good work and punishing mistakes made. It discourages creativity from the workers. Leaders using this approach state clear standards and their expectations by using rewards to motivate their followers.
Charismatic leadership is another aspect of the leader-centered style. This style is known for the immense enthusiasm that the leader uses on the team to drive them into attaining planned goals and objectives. In this type of leadership, the leader embraces communication with his/ her followers unlike in the aspect of the authoritative and transactional leadership aspects. However, the leader believes more on the vision he / she has and in his / her abilities than that of the followers. These types of leaders are concerned about the image they present and therefore, they strive to charm their followers (Lussier & Achua 2010).
Team-centered leadership achieves success of an organization throug the growth, realization and development of the followers. Team-centered leadership is often practiced in institutions that treat their employees as the most valuable organizational assets. Institutions that practice team-centered leadership seem to have a flat structure in which leaders and followers have an equal treat. Examples of team-centered leadership include participative, servant and transformational leadership style.
Participative leadership depends on the knowledge, abilities and feedback of the entire team. Although final decisions are made by participative leaders, they often accept and involve input from followers in decision and problem solving processes. Inputs provided by group members who have specialized knowledge and expertise help in creating a more complete basis that is used to make decisions. Since no leader can be an expert in all disciplines, participative leadership leads to effective and accurate decisions. Followers’ commitment to the success of the organization is often increased with an increase in influence. This kind of leadership sharpens the decision making skills of the followers, which help them to develop into future leaders.
Servant leadership is mainly concerned with strong values and ideas that both the leaders and the followers and leaders bring into work place. The servant leaders are mostly concerned with the success of their followers than themselves and hence look after the needs of their followers by proving environment where the followers can attain their full potential and best performance. The leaders think of their followers as partners and treat them as such.
Transformational leadership aims at inspiring the followers to achieve a shared vision of the organizational future. These leaders often do things with passion and energy. They are aimed at selling future vision to the followers. The transformational leaders often lead their followers by example through their attitudes and actions.
Challenges Faced by Team Leaders in an Attempt to Address Healthcare Issues
A team leader is often met with two overriding responsibilities. The leader is often accountable for the efficient functioning of his / her team. He/ she is faced with the responsibility of ensuring that they develop a stable leadership structure. A decision making team is often most effective when it has a clear definition of its framework for work. When its framework is clear, the team tends to work in a more efficient manner. They also tend to have fewer interpersonal problems and their production of output is better and improved.
The most common observations that strategic decision making processes lead to the contribution of leadership challenges include a diverse team membership, whereby there are often various agencies involved. Each of these agencies has differing terminologies, goals and priorities. The members may lack a clear understanding of various agency roles and their contribution to the issue. They also have different perceptions on how the health institution works.
Lack of policy guidance, this is whereby strategic level decision making teams are often not given in a clearly defined policy guidance. This is mostly due to concerns with the media scrutiny or politics.
Law team authority, whereby the framework to ensuring things is done is either ambiguous or nonexistent.
In the internal politics challenge, team members’ mindsets emphasize on the agency goals and their programs at the expense of an overall governmental objectives. Healthcare inertia, this involves a challenge where members resist change and divergence from existing policies.
How Leaders Attempt to Address Challenges Faced in Healthcare
It is crucial for leaders to be able to know their leadership styles. Knowledge and understanding of leadership styles enables leaders improve their leadership efficiently. It also aids them to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and enables them to become more aware of the environmental threats and opportunities that surround them. This helps them acquire good foundation that will enable them develop strategic plans for improvement and efficiency.
In realizing the strengths and weaknesses of a practiced leadership style, leaders become aware of their values, abilities and beliefs. They are also able to know how these values and beliefs are perceived by their followers (Leach, 2005).
The healthcare sector has not always been recognized as a team sport as it is presently known. Over the past twenty years, the pace of healthcare in regards to teamwork and leadership has quickened. This rapid change will continue to accelerate as both clinicians and patients integrate new technologies into its management.
Complexity in the health centers is rising geometrically. This shows no signs of reversing and the number of connections based between healthcare providers and patients is most likely to be on the increase. In regard the complexity of information given and interpersonal connections, it is both difficult and harmful for one clinician to provide care in isolation.
As multiple clinicians tend to provide care to the same family, they develop into a team, each working with the same common aim of providing care.
Team leaders are responsible in ensuring the information processing activities that are engaged by the team as it accomplishes its tasks. Various reecent studies have shown the importance of leaders participating in fostering effective and collective information processes. An example is the Avolio (1997) that found that team leaders who actively participate in leadership had team members who generated more solutions to problems. Their members participated actively compared to those who displayed directive leadership. However, these suggestions were only true for tasks that were moderately structured. They were reversed on tasks that were highly structured. Example, a directive leadership resulted in more generation of solutions among team members.
A highly performing team is widely recognized as a crucial tool for the construction of a more patient center and effective form of a healthcare delivery. The skill and reliability with which team members work together is fundamental for its success.
The team function has been described as a spectrum that runs from parallel to practice that enables clinicians to work separately. This is to an integrative care, whereby the interdisciplinary team approach is nonhierarchical and aims at maximizing on consensus building that has many variations (Leach, 2005).
The explicit uptake of inter professional team based care has been limited despite the pervasiveness of people working together. However, researchers have come up with facilitators/ factors that promote and constitute good teams and team work. ‘Grumbach’ and ‘Bodenheimer’ for instance, found that key facilitators included having division of labor, training of members, efficient communication and leadership (Katz, 1977).
The foundation of a team based healthcare that is successful and efficient, is the adoption of a clearly articulated set of goals shared for the patient’s care and the work of the team in the provision of the care.
High functioning teams in healthcare often strive to ensure they organize their mission, goals and performance. This is a central tenet of a social compact that is between healthcare professionals and the society.
Participative leadership facilitates processes of effective collective information. According to Franz (1998), leaders who share problem solving responsibilities have more information sharing between the members compared to directive leaders. When team leaders encourage their teams to self-management, they are able to engage in a more problem management strategy that reduces performance barriers than those in teams where leaders do not encourage self-management.
Team leaders can facilitate collectively met cognition. This can be done through the provision of critical performance feedback to team members that are aimed at encouraging collective reflection upon team processes (Kleinman, Serfaty, 1989).
Decision makers who are strategic often use teams to solve urgent problems. Strategic level decision making exists for small periods to resolve major problems or to be in a position to develop national policies and strategies that meet future challenges.
The issue of team leadership has at times become a contentious issue. This is especially true when it is approached in a political or legal arena, where the question that concerns team leadership has become entangled in a professional issue. Particularly, the developed arguments on independent practice verses team based care.
Emphasis has been put on the importance of team working in health care on several reports and policy documents. The importance of team working is of a particular emphasis if the health and care of individuals are to be of the highest quality and efficiency (Kivligan, 1997).
Radical change and approach is required to fully realize the benefits derived from team working in a health center (Lussier & Achua 2010).
There is a widespread agreement that effective and efficient teams require a clear leader. Teams have a need to realize that the leadership of any team in any particular task is mostly determined by the needs of the team and not by traditional hierarchy.
Since the roles of a team vary in both professional capabilities and function, caregivers and patients should be fully informed on the roles. Each team member should be able to communicate his / her role clearly. Hence, the various activities concerning the different team followers are clearly defined.
Accelerating the implications of efficient team based health care is a possible phenomenon using common touchstone principles and values that are measurable. Teams have the potential to improve the value of healthcares and be in a position to capture the full potential of team based care. As teams become more experienced and as they are able to achieve a significant level of expertise, members can take over some of the leadership functions. The designated leaders can retain their various boundary spanning responsibilities.
Different existing theories on leadership and the dynamics of a team tend to minimize various contributing influences of the various processes on the other. Such minimization leads to a less understanding of collective performance and decision making. As the health institution moves from a traditional hierarchy structure to one that is more team based, the processes of a team have an increasing influence on a leader and on the health institutions effectiveness.
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