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Important Leadership Values in Healthcare


Tan Hui Ling

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Managing Director, Bagan Specialist Centre

Healthcare leaders make decisions that impact many. Important healthcare leadership values that should be cultivated are explored here including integrity and trust, commitment and wholeheartedness, diligence and endurance, humility and teach ability, courage and determination, responsibility and accountability, as well as visionary and purpose-driven.


As healthcare leaders we know that every action or decision made, the consequence is not just for now, but can last for many years and affecting many lives. Hence the values that healthcare leaders uphold are of utmost importance. Leadership values are like treasure troves for a person. It defines how the leader will act and lead the team in good and bad times, it affects many patients under the care, and also influences deep and wide the organisation culture. These are the leadership values that should be cultivated in every healthcare leader.

1. Integrity and Trust
Integrity means doing the right thing when no one is watching. It also means keeping to one’s word and principle amidst pressure and challenges. It leads to trust which is the foundation of all relationships. It defines the person’s character amidst temptation and adversity. Many say money cannot buy integrity. Rather it should be money can buy integrity, but once one lose his or her integrity, nothing can buy it back. In healthcare, where patients trust their lives in the hands of the providers, trust is something not to be toyed with. Hence every heathcare leader should cultivate integrity and build trust, and guard it with one’s life!

2. Commitment and Wholeheartedness
Commitment is dedicating one’s time and effort, and wholeheartedness is giving one’s all to it. A leader who is committed and wholehearted in his or her role will do his or her best, and attempt to excel within his or her means. As a result, he or she will definitely bear sustaining good fruit in his or her work. In this ‘touch and go’ era, a person with the ability to commit and be wholehearted in his or her role will be easily spotted and any good superior will only be more willing to groom him or her into a leadership role.

3. Diligence and Endurance
Diligence seems like a very out-of-fashion word. Many want easy success with minimal effort, which can be seen frequently, and time tells that this type of success does not last long.  For all real successful people much hard work has been put in for a long time behind the scene. The world best sportsmen do not become world number one overnight, it is through years of training and refining their skills to bring them to the top. They endure difficulties, work on their weakness, hone their skills and overcome failures again and again in order to achieve their best. Hence, any healthcare leader should have the diligence and endurance to work on his or her weakness, to improve his or her skills, and to overcome all sort of challenges in order to reach his or her success.

4. Humility & Teachability
When a leader is humble and teachable, he or she learns the most and gains the most. When one thinks he or she is the best and infallible, or starts undermining others, he or she loses the opportunity to learn and improve. It is when one is humble and teachable, that other people are willing to honestly share their opinion and constructive feedback for improvement. It is also when one is humble and teachable, that people around are more willing to share knowledge and resources. Hence humility and teachability is such a indispensable leadership value to help one gain more as a leader.

5. Courage & Determination
Courage is not the lack of fear, but it is amidst the presence of fear, one muster his or her determination to overcome it. As a healthcare leader, daily one faces different challenges and unexpected circumstances, internally and externally. Occasionally there is a need to make very difficult decisions that could be very unpopular, has unsurmountable impact on many, or need to bear significant uncertainty and risk. Hence having the courage to make decisions promptly and wisely, and the determination to carry it to completion, is a important leadership value to steer the organisation and lead the people.

6. Responsibility and Accountability
As a healthcare leader, one makes decision that not only affect lives, but also life and death itself. The sense of responsibility of one’s authority and impact of decision, as well as the sense of accountability of one’s action, not just to his or her colleague, employer and organisation, but also to the patients one cares for and the society as a whole, is important as healthcare is a common good. It helps guard and guide the quality of the decisions and actions, and its potential impact.

7. Visionary and Purpose-Driven
There is a saying, “People without vision perish”.  The healthcare organisation under the leadership of the person, needs a leader that has a vision and is purpose-driven. Healthcare jobs are very demanding and draining, and healthcare organisations have been seeing very high burn-out rates and turn-over rates. Hence a leader that can steer the organisation and its people, with a sense of higher purpose, and a clear vision with visible destination to move towards, are usually able to keep its people longer together to fulfil the organisation vision and mission.