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Medical Group Management Association

Executive Session: Cultivating accountability and results through executive coaching

Podcast - September 16, 2020

Professional Development

Leadership Development


Establishing a culture of innovation within a medical practice requires executive leadership — physicians and administrators alike — to “establish clarity of where they are and where they want to go to drive a culture of innovation and excellence,” says MGMA consultant Adrienne Lloyd, MHA, FACHE, CEO and founder of Optimize Healthcare.
“Health changes so fast,” Lloyd noted in her recent appearance on the MGMA Executive Session podcast. “I think it’s unrealistic for us to do these complex, three- to five-year strategic plans, especially with where we are right now with a pandemic.”
For today’s healthcare executives, thinking ahead six to 12 months can be crucial, but the disruption of COVID-19 has consumed time that might normally have gone toward strategic planning and refocused attention on short-term goals, such as increasing volumes and revenues. “Unfortunately, where we are right now, if you don’t increase your volumes by 10% to 20%, you could be facing having to sell your practice or close your practice,” Lloyd cautioned.

Bringing focus through coaching

One method to better manage these intensified demands of the job is leadership coaching, which can bring focus for healthcare executives to make sure they can clarify and articulate their vision to the organization and begin to create engagement and change to achieve the goals that will sustain practices through hard times and provide a foundation for future growth.
Lloyd, who has more than 20 years in healthcare leadership roles in organizations such as Mayo Clinic and Duke Health System, is offering an eight-week, live executive coaching program in partnership with MGMA, called Day Zero Blueprint.
Lloyd’s work in executive coaching builds on her belief that most of healthcare delivery “comes down to people and process” — and that investing in leaders of the organization is a key method to give them the right tools to align the people and processes of the medical practice to allow them to do their best job.

The personal touch of coaching

Whereas consulting is more of a targeted method to diagnose a problem in an organization or work through a specific project (e.g., EHR roll-out), coaching focuses on partnering with an individual to “reset what they’re doing” and understand his or her goals and achievements, both within the organization and in personal life.
“You're helping them identify their own issues, identify opportunities and direction that they have, but also helping them look at the business and how they can optimize what the business is doing and really try to get everybody on the same page aligned and move forward to improve and grow,” Lloyd said.
Selecting a coach becomes an important step given that personal relationship that will involve creating priorities and holding the executive being coached accountable. “It's very important that you find a coach that works well with your style, and that may mean you need somebody who's a little bit more focused and direct. … Somebody who's going to hold you to task.”
Coaching also should account for the unique needs of physician executives compared to administrative leaders. Physician leaders often focus on personal responsibility, especially with patient relationships, and may not know who to turn to for help, especially for business leadership topics not covered in medical education or interpersonal skills for team leadership and professional development of staff and team members.
The decision to provide coaching to leaders within the organization can have a profound effect on retaining top performers, as it communicates the organization’s interest in developing that leader. “One of the most important things for people staying in their jobs is that they feel that the organization is investing in them, and that they understand their vision,” Lloyd said.

Building better teams through coaching

Lloyd has worked extensively teaching Lean and Six Sigma concepts to healthcare leaders, but she said she now recognizes that leadership skills that can be developed via coaching are a crucial part to the success of rolling out a Lean or Six Sigma transformation within the practice. “If you don’t have the leadership [when pursuing Lean or Six Sigma] … it’s more than likely going to backslide before you know it,” Lloyd said.
Those leadership skills also benefit the dyad relationship between physician executives and administrators, which was heavily emphasized in Lloyd’s work at Mayo Clinic. Leadership skills gained in coaching can foster the understanding of the specific areas in which physician leaders can contribute more heavily, versus the business realm in which administrators excel.
Physicians and administrators may “speak different languages,” but successful dyad leadership structures often involve creating a “physician-administrator compact” to distinguish each leader’s areas of responsibility and the areas of decision-making that fall in between and require them to come together and collaborate before taking action. Coaching can help leaders on either side of the dyad “be better communicators in terms of establishing and communicating that vision,” Lloyd said.

Learn more: Day Zero Blueprint Program: Reset, Reimagine and Relaunch an Optimized Organization

The Day Zero Blueprint will help you develop a step-by-step strategy to drive alignment and engagement across your organization. When implemented correctly, this methodology has been used to transform the culture and performance of multiple organizations, resulting in numerous multi-million-dollar improvements. These strategies have successfully transformed a wide range of organizations from small to large, single to multi-specialty and clinic outpatient to procedural/surgical organizations.
  • Schedule a free Day Zero Blueprint strategy session: Interested in the program but not sure if it is the right time for you and your organization? Click here to schedule one of the free Day Zero Blueprint Calls with Adrienne.
  • Interested in having a 1:1 assessment, a go-live rehearsal, free tickets to other virtual programs and more? Check out the Day Zero Blueprint Accelerator program.

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About the Author

David N. Gans
Industry Affairs MGMA

David N. Gans, FACMPE, can be reached at 


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