To achieve the right balance between compassionate care and efficient business practices, administrators and medical practitioners must come together. Frustrations facing both administrators and providers include cost-cutting measures, mergers, consolidation of health systems, demonstrating growth in the highly competitive health care industry, and maintaining the quality of care and patient experience. Dyad leadership development and coaching is an approach that focuses on the advancement, growth and effectiveness of providers and administrators involved in a dyad partnership. 

The dyad approach to leadership most often includes one administrative person and one physician/clinical leader. As an example, a typical dyad consists of a hospital president and a chief medical officer. Dyads however can also include two leaders from a specific system, division, clinical service line or project who have complementary skills that need to work together and support each other in problem solving and decision making. Another structure may also include a triad or team approach that works together for more aligned and effective business and patient outcomes. The structure will vary depending on the purpose behind the structure. The focus of the effort though is typically the same – stronger leadership, more cohesive teams, and ultimately a more engaged workforce. These efforts typically result in industry-leading patient and sustainable business outcomes.

Traditional Development Approaches

Healthcare administrators typically rise through an organization and acquire knowledge and leadership skills through experience and academic degrees in business, management or healthcare leadership. Physicians attend medical school, which is typically packed with clinical rotations, classroom hours, lab study and exercises in patient interviews and examinations. Although this is changing, the majority of medical schools provide little education or practical application of leadership skills. Most clinicians move into a more formal leadership role as a result of their natural strengths in leading or out of a desire to make a difference at a different level in the organization. These shifts are often conducted without the benefit of the business, finance and interpersonal skills and leadership training that others receive. This traditional approach to leadership development often results in a less than ideal partnership, a lack of appreciation for each other’s strengths, and the absence of trust and support between the dyad, triad or team leaders.

When leaders with different backgrounds and experiences are paired together, the business, employees and patients only stand to gain. Beyond the different perspectives that each brings to the table, additional benefits include a united front when embarking on change, a feeling of inclusion and representation in decisions, a more supportive and efficient approach to getting the work done, and growth and development across specialties.

An Innovative Approach to Dyad Leadership Development

In an ideal situation, leaders in a dyads, triads or formal teams tap into each other’s strengths, collaborate on decision making, support each other, and present as united and aligned. They work together to improve the overall health system versus their independent area of responsibility. Achieving this leadership balance can be a challenging journey with many dips and valleys. These actions often require a change in behavior and mindset of everyone involved as it is a true pathway to a managing partnership. Learning and being coached together provides opportunities to better understand each other, improve flexibility and collaboration, discuss implementation strategies, create feedback loops, and create sustainable change in behavior over time. Basically, everyone becomes agile leaders together. The focus in this approach is on the relationship and what is required of the individuals to ensure the partnership and the organization are successful. Providing development opportunities for both the individuals and the dyad, triad or team, will help create better and stronger leadership, more cohesive teams and ultimately a more engaged workforce resulting in better patient and business outcomes.

Challenges and Benefits

The primary obstacles to implementing such development and coaching measures are time and resources. In this time of healthcare uncertainty, for organizations that can overcome these challenges and support the development of their dyads, the payoff is worth the investment, as leadership bench strength is improved, efficiencies are identified and engagement of a very competitive workforce is increased.

There are a number of benefits for significant investment in Dyad Coaching that can have a significant impact on healthcare outcomes, patient experience and clinical staff retention. As referenced in the book, Dyad Leadership in Healthcare, return on investment in dyad coaching includes shaping a culture of physician engagement, improved clinical outcomes, talent mobility and strategic agility, process efficiency, healthcare innovations, improved communication among the administration and clinical staff, and improved financial performance.

Healthcare systems can differentiate themselves from other service providers by investing in the development of staff and clinical leaders. Improving the dyad or triad leadership capabilities will help your organization become the destination for patients and employees.