HealthTeamWorks emphasizes the importance of understanding leadership in healthcare – from the challenges leaders face to the methods to promote their success. Not all leadership looks the same, and we want to address one of the questions that arises when developing leadership within healthcare: What does (or should) leadership in team-based care look like?
While it’s true that, for team-based care to be effective, there must be buy-in from organizational leadership (i.e., managers, administrators, executives), those positions are not necessarily the “leaders” of a team in team-based care.
Team-based care does not necessitate leadership formalized by a chain of command.
“Rather than hierarchy,” John Armstrong, MD suggests, “what groups really need to be effective is clear structure: defined relationships,…set standards, shared respect, and a means for managing conflict.” This requires collaboration and allows for flexibility and adaptability.1
Consider one of the essential components of team-based care: daily team huddles. Who leads these huddles? And what makes for impactful leadership in these huddles?
Effective daily huddles require leadership to be successful, to cover what needs to be covered for the day in what could be only 10 minutes. Huddle leaders provide structure and continuity.2
But you don’t need to be in a ‘leadership role’ or even be the clinical decision-maker to be a leader of your team’s huddle. In fact, some care teams even rotate the role of huddle leader to different members at regular intervals.2
To be impactful, what should leadership look like in something like a daily huddle? Well, huddle leaders must empower staff and give the opportunity for every team member to contribute by facilitating communication and encouraging others to listen.3 This is reflective of leadership in team-based care broadly.
So yes – physicians may ultimately be the clinical decision-makers on a care team, but when we talk about leadership in team-based care, it is in a much more nuanced way. That means that being an effective team leader for a particular task (like running a daily huddle) may require skills distinct from those that are required for making clinical decisions.4 And, according to a paper in the National Academy of Medicine, “leadership of a team in any particular task should be determined by the needs of the team and not by traditional hierarchy.”4
Leadership in team-based care, therefore, is about collaboration, ownership, and accountability across all team members.
*The team at HealthTeamWorks is here to help you succeed in your role as a leader – whatever that may look like to you, your team, or your organization.
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1. Armstrong, J. (2013). Leadership and Team-Based Care. AMA Journal of Ethics. Available at https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/leadership-and-team-based-care/2013-06
2. AMA STEPS Forward. (2015). Daily Team Huddles: Boost Productivity and Teamwork. Available at https://edhub.ama-assn.org/steps-forward/module/2702506
3. Shaikh, U. (2020). Improving Patient Safety and Team Communication through Daily Huddles. AHRQ Patient Safety Network.
4. Mitchell, P., Wynia, M., Robyn, G., McNellis, B.,… & Von Kohorn, I. (2012). Core Principles & Values of Effective Team-Based Health Care. National Academy of Medicine. Available at https://nam.edu/perspectives-2012-core-principles-values-of-effective-team-based-health-care/