All Leaders (Even Physicians) Need Someone To Talk To
Congratulations! You are a successful physician, and your partners voted you to be President of your group. Feels pretty good. Then the decisions start coming. At first, the decisions are easy. Then the complex questions start, even some that keep you awake at night. Who do you call to talk through issues? If this were a tough clinical case, you would call your colleagues, maybe even someone who trained with you. But the issues are not clinical. They are business related, and they are complicated. There are no ‘business’ grand rounds to go over the case and receive colleague input, there is no M&M meeting to review what could have been a better decision or what went wrong.
But what if there was?
Traditionally, leaders find their own ways of addressing the opportunities and issues they are faced with daily.
Some leaders consult courses and books. Healthcare executive classes, MBA programs, seminars, and business books are great places to learn new concepts and baseline management techniques. The problem is that these training options only scratch the surface of business opportunities and issues. When you are flying the plane, things happen that classes and books cannot cover. They happen fast, and they are all important.
Other leaders consult trusted advisors, mentors, friends and confidants to listen, ask questions and encourage them to be better. Advisors and friends are helpful. However, it is rare that a close advisor, consultant, or friend will challenge your position or suggest you may need to go in a different direction, especially if the problem may be with you – the leader. Getting to the next level requires being challenged. Whether it is running a fast mile split, weightlifting an additional twenty pounds, learning a new skill or being the best President/CEO, we all need to be pushed outside our comfort zones.
Still other leaders use advisory (external) boards to provide an outside voice to the CEO and owners. While great in theory, physician practices seldom add ‘advisory’ board members to the partner meetings.
So when these traditional methods won’t cut it, leaders need another resource to turn to for support and feedback that is deliberate, open minded, honest and appropriately challenging.
Enter the physician peer group.
In order to be successful, a physician peer group should be led by an experienced moderator or chair. It should include participants who vary in practice size, specialty, and goals, are not competitors, and are diverse. The physicians in the group should want to learn and be willing to share experiences and details of their practices. The peer group must meet regularly to develop a rhythm and trust. Within the group, physicians can present their business opportunity or issue (case) in confidential detail, and the group can ask questions to understand the situation and suggest solutions. A truly effective peer group can ask the physician to present a plan, and the peer group can hold the physician accountable to the decision(s) made.
If this sounds beneficial, then good news: There is such a group. The Physician Board Room is a physician leadership peer group that assists physician leaders to improve their leadership skills, management, business skills, and organizational effectiveness.
The Physician Board Room is designed to have 12-14 regional physician CEO’s (managing partners) in a board room format, learning, assisting, solving healthcare-related business issues for and with each other. The group meets for 10 day-long monthly meetings, and a monthly one-to-one meeting with the experienced Board Room Chairman.
If you are a healthcare leader and feel like you need an outside ear, or if you are interested in participating in a peer group, please contact Tom Ferkovic at TFerkovic@medicmgmt.com.
Thomas J. Ferkovic, R, PH, MS, is CEO of Medic Management Group. His background includes extensive work in areas including business and clinical advisory; revenue cycle management, transaction support, crisis management / turn around execution, and practice management. MMG is a national provider of consulting services and back office administrative support to independent and system owned physician practice groups.