Healthcare Leadership and Moving from Colleague to “Boss”

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Within a typical healthcare leader’s journey and their rise in management ranks, it is not uncommon to transition from a colleague and friend to a position of authority.

When navigated properly in healthcare, this transition can be seamless, fruitful, and mutually beneficial to all parties involved, including the parent organization and the patients/communities it serves.

When mismanaged, this transition can be awkward, costly, and deeply consequential.

Joining us on our Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast this week is Kathleen Zwarick Shanley, PhD, CAE, PCC, ELI-MP. We will delve deep into this common occurrence in healthcare that requires caution and care.

Kathy is the founder and CEO of Statice and has been a C-suite executive for over three decades and is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, a certified association executive, and an International Coaching Federation credentialed professional coach. She also served on the American Association of Medical Society Executives Board of Directors and as an executive with the American Urological Association (AUA) for more than ten years.

You learn more about her by visiting her website:

Physician Leadership Foundations

While our summer cohort of the Physician Leadership Foundations Certificate just wrapped up, it’s not too early to start thinking about attending our Fall cohort On November 4, 11, and 18.

Join our HXF physician coaching team and industry perspective speakers for an engaging online peer collaboration learning experience. We are equipping physicians to improve patient outcomes by developing advanced leadership skills to successfully contribute to medical staff engagement and improving patient care outcomes.

You can learn more here.

Our program specifically supports your high potential medical staff, emerging and new physician leaders to grow and team with administration, their peers, and care teams to advance patient care and colleague engagement. If you believe as we do, that every physician is a leader reserve your spot today! Objectives for the program each day:

Day One (Mon, Nov 4, 2024)

  •      Module 1: Physicians as Leaders to Achieve Engagement and Quality Patient Outcomes
  •      Module 2: Emotional Intelligence for Physicians and Wellbeing

Day Two (Mon. Nov 11, 2024)

  •      Module 3: Trust, Giving Feedback and Healthy Conflict
  •      Module 4: Teamwork and Sphere of Influence

Day 3 (Mon, Nov 18, 2024)

  •      Module 5: Communication with Peers, C-Suite, Care Team, Residents and Students
  •      Module 6: Health Equity and the Patient Experience

From Colleague to Boss

Today’s interview can serve as a teaser for what is covered in the physician leadership program, where topics like transitioning from colleague to boss will be explored in-depth. The importance of clear communication and transparency during such transitions cannot be overstated.

As discussed in this podcast, the significance of friendships in the workplace has been studied extensively. Apart from her decades of leadership experience, Kathy emphasizes staying informed on this dynamic by referencing a book titled “The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of Our Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time” by Shasta Nelson.

Published in 2020, this valuable resource highlights the positive impact of workplace friendships on engagement and trust. You can learn more about that book here.

Clear Expectations, Open Dialogue

As today’s interview progressed, Kathy addressed more challenges that can arise when a friend becomes a boss, stressing the need for open dialogue and setting clear expectations to navigate potential concerns around favoritism and feedback.

For aspiring leaders unsure of their path, Kathy recommended starting with understanding personal values and preferences to determine the type of leadership role that suits them best. She highlighted the importance of seeking mentorship, setting goals, and being intentional in building relationships with key individuals in their field.

Overall, there is no substitute for careful communication, self-awareness, and intentional leadership in navigating the dynamics of colleague-to-boss transitions in the healthcare industry.

More HX Matters Podcasts

Our podcast is dedicated to transforming the health care experience so that every person can receive and deliver the best care.

You can subscribe to our podcast for free on all major podcast platforms and for video of our interviews, you can always check out the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) on YouTube. Catch up on all episodes of our podcast by subscribing and following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music and more.