Building Resilience In Healthcare Leaders

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Roqeebat Bolarinwa Avatar

(Writer, Healthcare Innovation & Leadership)

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Concept Of Resilience

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Over time, we develop a form of natural resilience through both conscious and unconscious adaptive mechanisms that we build.

Resilience is the ability to cope with challenging situations.

Resilient leaders are thoughtful and deliberate. They are able to strike a healthy balance between logic and emotion in how they lead themselves and others.

In this article, we will be discussing the concept of resilience in healthcare leadership.

Resilience In Healthcare

Healthcare leaders usually handle significant administrative positions in the healthcare industry.

However, not all leadership responsibilities have title tags.

Every role involves leadership, from a nurse responsible for patient care to a radiologist diagnosing diseases with medical imaging to a pharmacist carefully checking prescriptions before dispensing.

In a famous quote, Simon Sinek says, “leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.”

In healthcare leadership, resilience is a must-have skill.

Healthcare professionals face constant challenges while making critical decisions under pressure.

Resilient leaders play a significant role in enabling psychological safety within their teams in a high-stress environment.

The Role Of Resilience In Strengthening Psychological Safety For Healthcare Leaders

Resilient leaders lead by example. Delegating tasks is not enough when you, as the leader, do not show enthusiasm.

A resilient environment is where team members feel comfortable expressing themselves and learning from mistakes.

In addition, in high-stress situations, resilient leaders remain composed and adaptable, providing their teams with stability and confidence.

Patients are observant of healthcare providers’ countenances, and a calm, collected leader can instil confidence in the team and the patients they serve.

Additionally, resilience helps healthcare leaders prioritise taking care of themselves and their well-being, setting a good example for their teams, and highlighting the importance of mental and emotional health in a demanding ecosystem like healthcare.

This focus on self-care helps prevent burnout and maintains individual performance output.

The Importance Of Resilience In Healthcare Leadership

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According to Almeida et al. (2023), resilience in healthcare workers can mean protection against psychological distress during health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study emphasises that resilience can relieve adverse job-related outcomes such as burnout, anxiety, and depression.

In addition, organisational issues such as the restructuring of workspaces and routines and lack of support due to increased separation from family further aggravate the challenges faced by healthcare professionals.

Professional training programs are beneficial for addressing these challenges. Participants in the study highlighted that having more information and tools improves the quality of care provided and prepares them better for future crises.

Beyond bouncing back from adversity, resilience is the inherent ability to maintain a stable and positive outlook even during the most challenging times.

This stability is essential in healthcare, where the risks are high and the pressure is continuous.

Resilient leaders can inspire their teams to stay focused, motivated, and committed, even when faced with significant obstacles.

Challenges Faced By Healthcare Leaders

Healthcare leaders encounter numerous challenges daily, including managing limited resources, navigating complex regulatory conditions, and addressing the diverse needs of patients and staff.

These challenges can be overwhelming, leading to burnout and decreased effectiveness if not appropriately managed.

Resilience helps leaders cope with these pressures, ensuring they can continue to provide effective leadership and support to their teams.

A 2024 study by Rawlings et al. reveals that psychological resilience in healthcare workers is necessary for maintaining emotional well-being and functionality in their demanding profession.

Resilient healthcare professionals can withstand high workloads and patient management while maintaining criteria for job satisfaction and overall well-being.

Resilience should be seen as the guide against burnout that improves the ability to deliver effective care.

Some factors influencing resilience include personality traits, coping mechanisms, and organisational support.

Leadership that lacks resilience would be problematic because a leader’s role involves numerous setbacks and trials.

Without resilience, leaders might struggle to handle these challenges effectively, which could lead to poor decision-making, decreased team morale, and inefficient patient care.

Strategies For Building Resilience In Healthcare Leaders

  • Improve Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation of resilience.

Healthcare leaders must first understand their strengths and weaknesses to develop strategies to manage stress and stay focused.

Regular self-reflection and mindfulness practices can help leaders maintain a clear perspective and make more informed decisions.

  • Develop Adaptive Coping Mechanisms

Healthcare leaders need to be adaptable and flexible in their approach.

Frustration in leadership is sometimes inevitable. 

Flexibility involves developing coping mechanisms that allow them to manage stress and remain effective under pressure.

Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and regular exercise can help leaders maintain their resilience and focus on their goals.

  • Prioritise Self-Care

Self-care is essential for maintaining resilience.

Healthcare leaders should prioritise their physical and mental well-being to ensure they have the energy and stamina to lead effectively; this includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity outside work.

  • Continuous Learning and Development

Continuous learning and development are of prime importance for building resilience.

Staying informed about the latest advancements in healthcare and leadership can help leaders adapt more effectively to changes and challenges.

Engaging in professional development opportunities, attending workshops, and pursuing further education can help leaders stay resilient and prepared for whatever comes their way.

Promoting A Culture Of Resilience

Resilience in healthcare leadership is a collective effort.

Healthcare leaders can promote a culture of resilience within their teams by fostering open communication, providing resources for professional development, and encouraging a supportive work environment.

This is one effective way a leader can be sure of effective representation in their absence.

Conclusion

Resilience is a component of effective healthcare leadership.

Acquiring and inspiring resilience can help healthcare leaders create a psychologically safe environment where their teams can thrive, leading to better patient outcomes, improved team performance, and a more positive work environment.

As healthcare continues to evolve, the importance of resilience in leadership will only grow, making it essential for healthcare leaders to prioritise their resilience and that of their teams.

References

Almeida, R. S., Costa, A., Teixeira, I., Trigueiro, M. J., Dores, A. R., & Marques, A. (2023). Healthcare Professionals’ Resilience During the COVID-19 and Organizational Factors That Improve Individual Resilience: A Mixed-Method Study. Health Services Insights, 16, 11786329231198991. https://doi.org/10.1177/11786329231198991

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Resilience. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved June 4, 2024, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resilience

Rawlings, C., Adeniyi, A. O., Okolo, C. A., Babawarun, O., & Arowoogun, J. O. (2024). Psychological resilience in healthcare workers: A review of strategies and interventions. World Journal of Biology Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 17(02), 387-395. https://doi.org/10.30574/wjbphs.2024.17.2.0088


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Roqeebat Bolarinwa Avatar

(Writer, Healthcare Innovation & Leadership)

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