Sign up to receive posts from The Exchange
Posted By: Heather M. Hylton, MS, PA-C
March 12, 2021
For the greater part of a decade, I was fortunate to work with, and be mentored by, an incredible physician leader. When you think about attributes of a great leader (eg, trustworthiness, empathy, accountability, integrity, humility) there is not one area where this physician leader did not shine. One of this person's most exceptional attributes was (and is) presence.
During my time working with him, I found this person's remarkable presence to manifest in multiple ways:
Thoughtful and meticulous communication: Not only was he an engaged and attentive listener, but he could also readily adapt his communication style to meet the needs of his audience, whomever that may be.
Undivided attention: Although this physician leader, one of the hardest working people I know, continuously had many irons in the fire, this was never a distraction. Whenever he was in discussion with others, he was remarkably gifted in creating an environment where, whatever the topic at hand might be, that was the most important thing going on at that moment in time. If you have ever known someone with this quality, it is tremendous.
Ability to advance the dialogue: Another unique gift of this physician is the ability to make sure every voice, every viewpoint was heard. As we know, in any setting, sometimes there are voices that are louder than others, but that did not matter to this leader—he made sure there was space for everyone's thoughts, opinions, and ideas. He could take opposing viewpoints, find common ground, and move the dialogue forward, getting commitment on both sides to agree upon a plan of action before leaving the room. We worked together on many projects and initiatives, and even though I did not always have a seat at the tables that he did, he made sure my perspectives were heard—even on those rare occasions when we were not in agreement.
Over the years, I've met many leaders in healthcare—some with longstanding aspirations to pursue careers in healthcare leadership and some who stepped up because that was what was needed. Regardless of how one comes to the leadership path, I sincerely hope that all leaders in this space have the great fortune to have role models who inspire them, and, in turn, cultivate the best of those leadership traits in others.