To be a successful healthcare leader, the hard skills are a given. Depending on the role, these healthcare leadership competencies will vary and could include actual medical knowledge, an understanding about healthcare administration, knowledge about regulatory requirements, and the list goes on. But that’s hardly enough. Among the most essential healthcare leadership competencies are a range of soft skills—things that can’t be taught from a textbook but are still critical for success. Do your healthcare leaders have the following healthcare leadership competencies?


Patients and families aren’t the only ones worthy of compassion. Especially these days, when healthcare workers are burned out and under intense pressure, compassion’s close friend, empathy, is becoming one of the most important healthcare leadership competencies. Healthcare leaders that care about their colleagues and direct reports are appreciated and respected.

At its core, empathy means putting aside judgment and trying to understand the feelings of others. It can be a powerful problem-solving tool that has the added benefit of improving relationships and increasing morale. It can be learned, but a book can’t teach you empathy—you get better at it by practicing it. Be present in conversations, listen more and talk less.


No doubt healthcare is a fast-paced industry. But that’s no excuse for healthcare leaders to skimp on one of the most important healthcare leadership competencies there is—self-awareness.

Self-awareness means you have the ability to know what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how those feelings impact you and those you lead. When it comes to boosting your self-awareness, practice makes perfect and you can start by simply paying attention to things like changes in heart rate, muscle tension and breathing patterns.

But that’s not all. Self-awareness also is the ability to take an accurate inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Use a 360 feedback survey to find out how others perceive you and what they see as your strengths and weaknesses. There is no shame in having weaknesses. Everyone (yes, everyone) has them. It’s better to know what they are and to manage them than to deny that they exist.

Communicating Effectively

The ability to communicate effectively is both an important healthcare leadership competency and a delicate skill.

Come down too hard, and some people will feel patronized and demoralized. Be too passive, and they might feel lost or in the dark about what you want. Great leaders, on the other hand, can communicate expectations and instructions clearly and respectfully.

Becoming competent in this domain requires both good communication skills and conflict resolution skills. Like with the other soft skills mentioned above, practice is the key to improvement.

Take stock of healthcare leadership competencies in your organization with a G360 survey, which measure the competencies that are most important for today’s leaders and provide a blueprint for skill improvement. We offer a variety of surveys for healthcare leaders, executives and managers.