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The role of strategic leadership in healthcare

7 October 2022

As a current or aspiring healthcare leader, you’ll most likely be aware of the importance of effective leadership in health, social and community care settings. But are you aware of the importance of strategic leadership in healthcare?

Strategic leadership involves identifying the vision, mission, values, and goals for your organisation. Strategic leadership addresses health system design, as well as delivery and evaluation. Strategic leaders strive for a balance across quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of services through change management approaches.

The Australian Government estimates there will be a 15.8 per cent increase in healthcare employment over the next five years to November 2026. This is why PwC supports strategic workforce planning in healthcare.

PwC claims that strategic workforce planning ensures “a capable, appropriately sized and sustainable workforce”. This is only one aspect where strategic leadership in healthcare comes into play.

So, let us examine in further detail:

  • What is strategic leadership in healthcare?
  • The importance of strategic leadership in healthcare.
  • Why study strategic leadership?

What is strategic leadership in healthcare?

Strategic leadership in healthcare is a process of defining and shaping the future of your organisation. This necessitates identifying your organisation’s:

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Immediate and short-term goals to fulfil your mission
  • Longer-term goals to achieve your vision

Dr Nasim Salehi is the Course Coordinator for SCU Online’s Master of Healthcare Leadership. She believes that healthcare leaders need to discuss strategic ideas “in a collective way with other staff before making such decisions”. This helps to inspire employees and gets them involved in the process, ultimately facilitating a collaborative work culture, resulting in the generation of innovative ideas. After all, it’s your employees who will need to support and encourage your organisation’s vision, mission and goals.

A healthcare organisation’s vision, mission and goals are important, as they empower you to be unique in the service and care you provide. It helps identify real-world issues based on your consumers’ needs and how your organisation addresses those needs.

The next step is to explore the internal and external factors that impact your healthcare organisation. Internal factors could include a healthcare organisation’s strengths or weaknesses. While external factors include opportunities and threats.

“We need to try to use our opportunities and strengths to mitigate our weaknesses and threats,” reports Dr Salehi. By regularly reflecting on these aspects, and adjusting the organisation’s strategic direction, you can enhance your competitive advantage.

Strategic leadership should be the driving force behind all important decisions. This ensures your healthcare organisation stays on track with its values, mission and vision.

The importance of strategic leadership in healthcare

Dr Salehi reports that “it is paramount to stay competent, to uncover any deficiencies and to continue learning. If we don’t identify and address our deficiencies, weaknesses and threats, and if we don’t try to adapt, then we don’t get anywhere”. In creating a vision and planning for the future, it is equally important to account for these risks as well as search for opportunities.

So, the main components of strategic leadership are to:

  • Engage in strategic thinking
  • Utilise strategic planning
  • Facilitate and sustain strategic momentum

Strategic management assists with generating innovative ideas and learning how to adapt regularly. You will then need to turn that innovative idea into reality. It is important to continue generating ideas, to keep ahead of the changing face of healthcare.

As a healthcare leader, it is also important to have employees “buy into” achieving your organisation’s vision. This makes inclusion and teamwork very important, so as to avoid individual or group resistance to change.

Why become a strategic leader?

SCU Online’s Master of Healthcare Leadership equips graduates with essential skills, including learning:

  • How to be a strategic thinker by identifying your healthcare organisation’s vision, mission and goals, including how to break down that vision into manageable, actionable steps and put it into practice
  • How to be an effective strategic planner and how to sustain strategic momentum
  • To identify the competitive advantages of your organisation by running an environmental or situational analysis, and determine your strategic direction

What you learn through SCU Online will assist you to simultaneously provide high-quality, effective and cost-efficient services in an ever-changing and complex environment.

A course that’s delivered completely online, SCU’s Master of Healthcare Leadership allows you to study at your own pace while continuing to have a great work-life balance. The design of the online Masters course is engaging, flexible and interactive, providing you with:

No matter your healthcare background, graduating with a Master of Healthcare Leadership will give you:

Are you ready to refine your strategic leadership skills in healthcare?

Strategic leadership plays an important part in any leadership role in healthcare. While you may already have some great leadership skills in healthcare, your career will benefit from upskilling/refining your knowledge, and translating it into your practice.

SCU Online’s Master of Healthcare Leadership provides a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on the changing world of healthcare. As a healthcare leader in clinical, allied, social and community care settings, you will learn strategic leadership skills, as well as the opportunity to:

  • Extend your current knowledge in evidence-based care
  • Gain the skills required to remain relevant in an ever-evolving healthcare system
  • Develop strong, strategic leadership capabilities, through strategic thinking, and planning

Visit our Master of Healthcare Leadership course page for further details. There are six intakes per year, allowing you to start learning at a time that is convenient for you.