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Thoughts on Leadership

  • Writer's picturePhysician Leader Group

Ever Wonder "How" Physician Coaching Works?

In my last post on what physician executive coaching is (and isn't), I tried to answer some of the common questions I get from professionals interested in the work.

I want to further address other questions that I often receive from physicians, including how specifically coaching is being used by docs and healthcare organizations today, what the actual process of coaching looks like, how to know if you are "ready" for coaching, and how to pick the right coach for you. So firstly, how is coaching being used by physicians and healthcare organizations today?

Executive coaching is being used in healthcare in a number of ways including:

  • To transition physicians into new leadership roles

  • To develop leadership skills for new, first time physician leaders

  • To support established leaders and take them to higher levels of performance

  • To correct or improve professional conduct and team relations

  • To engage in supportive performance enhancement, prior to formal corrective action

  • To obtain multi-source 360 degree feedback

  • To learn strategies to have a greater balance between personal and professional life.

  • To help healthcare teams develop their communication skills and enhance a culture of collaboration and patient safety

Secondly, what is the process of individual coaching?

Whether coaching takes place individually or within a larger team intervention in the healthcare organization, coaching tends to follow a fairly typical process, including the following:

  • Executive coaching sessions are often conducted by telephone. This is convenient because it does not require both people to live in the same area. It also saves time and accommodates for the physician’s busy, sometimes unpredictable schedule.

  • Coaching sessions range from once a week to once a month, depending upon the physician's needs, goals and assessment results. This decision is made jointly with the coach. It is common for weekly coaching sessions at the onset of the coaching contract.

  • Some physicians and coaches prefer to meet in person at the onset of their work together. Spending a full or partial day together provides both parties an opportunity to establish rapport, clarify goals, identify strengths, and review obstacles or problems.

  • The duration of coaching will also depend upon the goals and progress made.Recommended coaching for physicians is between 6 – 12 months.

  • The cost of coaching also various widely depending upon the coach’s experience and the frequency of sessions.

Thirdly, how would you know if you're "ready" for coaching work? Coaching work is by no means “easy”. In order to get the best outcomes, you must make a serious commitment to reflecting, assessing, and being willing to change the parts of your thinking or behavior that are not working. To be “ready” for coaching, you must have fully considered and agree that:

  • Your intent and desire for change/growth are serious

  • You are ready to work and receive feedback

  • You are willing to try new ways of learning, will be truthful and inform your coach immediately when things are not working for you

  • You are willing to explore, challenge and change your thoughts, feelings and actions that you discover are ineffective or self-defeating

  • You understand that your coach will be focused on you and your best interests, not just your goals

  • You understand that your coach will educate, support and encourage you while you do the work and help you celebrate your successes

  • You are willing to give the coach the benefit of the doubt and “try on” new concepts or different ways of doing things

  • You are willing to put in the time between sessions for relevant tasks or assignments, such as reading, reflecting, having intentional conversations, etc.

  • You recognize the value and worth you are placing on yourself by investing in your personal and professional development

And lastly, how do you go about selecting the "right" executive coach?

Your coach is there to be your thought partner, support and guide as you move towards your goals. As such, the “fit” between you and your coach is critical. There are a number of different things to consider when deciding on a coach:

  • Does the coach have the skills that I think are important for success?

  • Do I like this person?

  • Is it important to me that my coach has a sense of humor?

  • Does the coach seem to understand my struggles and ‘get’ me?

  • Does the coach command my respect?

  • Am I using coaching appropriately? - or using it as an alternative to “dealing” with my problem?

  • Does the coach relate to me? (gender, race, ethnicity?)

  • Can the coach manage relationships effectively?

  • Has the coach had enough “real” experience at this level?

  • Does the coach know enough about healthcare and the world of physicians and medicine?

  • Do I feel comfortable and think I could work with the coach?

The final decision should always be based upon your own comfort level and the progress you feel you can make towards accomplishing your goals.

Please feel free to comment if you would like to know more, or if there are specific questions you have on Physician Executive Coaching that I haven't addressed. I am more than happy to answer any / all of your concerns.

I look forward to your thoughts!

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