Harvard Business Review recently published a “Daily Idea” about leadership that seems tailor-made for medical practice managers and doctors.  The idea: the best leaders are both tough and nice.

Those of us who’ve worked primarily in business know that the question of whether toughness or niceness drives more productivity from employees is almost as old as business study itself.  Everyone has a theory.  But, HBR’s analysis suggests that common sense wins out in the end: while a small percentage of employees with each polarized type of boss will ultimately be highly engaged, bosses that blend both styles get employees fully engaged a whopping 68% of the time.

Beyond these results, though, the tough+nice approach seems ideal for medicine in particular because it so aptly matches what healthcare is really about.  It’s a tough field in which errors are much more damaging and crucial to avoid than just about any other business, but it’s also a field that people pursue primarily because they are personally drawn to helping and caring for others.  It only makes sense that the best physician leaders and practice managers would combine high standards and expectations with compassion and kindness.

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