Every doctor has a leadership role at different level, their role changes with change in their position-Dr. Gohar Wajid


Every doctor has a leadership role at different level, their role changes with
change in their position-Dr. Gohar Wajid

If HCPs leave any Gap, it will be filled by someone else like bureaucrat
or administrator who have no right to represent medical profession
Expert’s bodies like PMC, PM&DC should integrate academic
and Educational leadership in our curriculum

By Shaukat Ali Jawaid

EGYPT: Every doctor starting from an intern to medical officer, registrar, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, Head of the department, Principal, Dean, Vice Chancellor has a leadership role at different levels. One can include the nurses and laboratory technicians in them as well. They all have to play their role and their role changes with the change in their positon. Unfortunately, this is not taught in our medical schools. Body of experts like Pakistan Medical Commission or Pakistan Medical & Dental Council need to integrate academic and educational leadership in our curriculum. This was stated by Dr. Gohar Wajid, an eminent medical educationist currently affiliated with World Health Organization at its Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office at Cairo, Egypt. He was making a presentation in ILE Webinar series on online on August 26th 2022. The topic of his presentation was “Essential Leadership Skills in Healthcare Professionals”.

Dr. Gohar Wajid

Institute of Leadership Excellence (ILE) it may be mentioned here is a CSR initiative by PharmEvo Pharmaceuticals established in 2017 and Dr. Gohar Wajid is a Board member of ILE. Healthcare professionals, Dr. Gohar Wajid opined should not leave any gap in leadership which will then be filled by someone else like bureaucrats, lawyer or administrators who have got no right to represent the medical profession. Continuing, Dr. Gohar Wajid said that he does not like conducting workshops on leadership skills online, it has to be face to face. He also disclosed that they were currently designing a Face to Face course to train senior healthcare professionals in leadership skills. It will cover leadership and governance. Currently the contents of this course are being finalized.

Dr. Gohar Wajid said that to grow leadership one needs to sharpen the saw, synergize, speak first to understand and then to understood. Think win win situation, go for first things first, begin with the end in mind and be proactive. In his presentation he discussed in detail what is leadership, a professional leader, traits of a leader, how can a doctor become a good leader and how one can improve one’s leadership skills. He also talked about different leadership styles and mentioned political leadership, bureaucratic leadership, military leadership and professional leadership. Democratic leadership takes decisions after discussion with colleagues but autocratic leadership takes decisions by themselves. A doctor, he opined, can be a good leader but a doctor and a medical teacher are not the same. We can call the doctors as professional leaders.

Speaking about the qualities of a good leader he mentioned clear vision, able to do things, integrity, credibility, honesty, trustworthy, decision maker, good communicator, team builder, empathy, self-control, self-awareness, a change agent, goal oriented, influences and inspires others and is emotionally intelligent. A leader must also respect others, be a role model, team player, innovator and courageous. Leadership, he further stated, is an observable, learnable set of practices. Given the opportunity for feedback and practice, those with the desire and persistence to lead can substantially improve their abilities to do so.

We need to train our children in leadership skills as well. Let them take initiative and become self-reliant, plan ahead, set and track the goals, do their homework, practice time management, manage their emotions, be considerate to others and explore their viewpoint. Leaders prioritize personal development, they focus on others and develop strategic thinking, innovation, action and change, they are ethical, civic minded and they practice effective cross cultural communication. They are able to resolve conflicts, find creative solutions, value differences and try to live a balanced life. He then highlighted the importance of developing emotional intelligence, being more adaptable and resilient, accept feedback from others, be effective leader and open to change. Leadership need to set and prioritize goals, take responsibility, focus on big picture, avoid distraction and set boundaries between personal and professional life. Good leader must focus on developing others. Take specific actions, delegate, coach, and monitor, develop team, give them tools and space to perform. He has to be assertive and be kind at the same time. Delegating responsibility, Dr. Gohar Wajid remarked, is harder and difficult than doing it yourself. But a leader need to make training as priority within the organization, he added. 

Dr. Gohar Wajid said that a leader needs to look forward, be flexible, try new ideas, be aware of change around them, and encourage innovative lateral thinking and creativity. Don’t be afraid of risky decisions, always take chances. There is always risk of failure. Success should be within the ethical boundaries. Leader must consider ethical consequences of his/her decisions, be honest, be open, transparent and authentic, recognize emotions of others and takes responsibility for his or her mistakes. Respected leaders Dr. Gohar Wajid said clearly communicate with individuals, teams and others inside and outside the organization. Leader has to be an effective listener, must pay attention to verbal and non-verbal communication body language, and embrace enthusiasm, confidence, inspiration and excitement when they communicate. Leaders have to be positive thinking and show optimism. Leader must know how to use the grey matter which is emotional intelligence which is the best predictor of leadership. Continuing Dr. Gohar Wajid said that a leader is supposed to believe in himself, challenge himself and accept challenges, have goals and inspiration. He or she has to be selfless, work on their emotional intelligence. Leader has to be a good communicator and they must put their colleagues first than themselves but unfortunately this is not being practiced among healthcare professionals in Pakistan. Leaders he went on to say are not positon oriented. Leader should lead from the Front but also know how to lead while sitting behind. I personally, Dr. Gohar Wajid opined, promote adaptive leadership style which means that one should evaluate the situation, adapt set of attributes which can be successful, he remarked. We all like to take credit for success but not for failures. However, good leadership takes responsibility for success and failure both.

Responding to a question during the discussion which followed his presentation Dr. Gohar Wajid said that leaders and managers are two different things. Management should be one of the traits of leadership. While leadership is giving new vision, taking responsibility for success and failures, be critical thinker but these are not the domains of managers. Leadership is not supposed to manage. One need to find good manager. He clarified that one cannot be a leader in every field as one can be a leader in his/her own domain. Despite having leadership qualities, I have to be a good follower in certain areas not in my domain. Answering another question as to how we can inculcate leadership qualities among our undergraduates and postgraduates Dr. Gohar Wajid suggested that academic and educational leadership needs to be integrated in our medical college curriculum. Criteria for success at work, he stated, was changing and we are being judged by a new yardstick. Not just by how smart we are or by our training and expertize but also how we handle ourselves and each other. This new yardstick was now being increasingly used to hire professionals, decide who will be retained and who will be allowed to go, who can be passed over and who needs to be promoted.

Arrogance in leadership also figures during the discussion. Many doctors and particularly surgeons, he said, have technical skills and they are excellent technicians but they cannot be leaders. Technical skills, Dr. Gohar Wajid was of the view, does not make one good leader but positon does enable one to show his or her leadership qualities. There is an arrogance in leadership culture in Pakistan. Leadership skills are not included in our training in medical institutions and it is usually taken for granted that all teachers will be good leaders which is not true. Leadership skills need to be taught in our medical curriculum but at present unfortunately professionalism was not being taught. One should know how to become a good doctor, how to talk to the patients and for all this we need to revisit our curriculum, Dr. Gohar Wajid remarked.

Earlier Dr. Masood Jawaid Director ILE who moderated the session and introduced the guest speaker Dr. Gohar Wajid in his introductory remarks pointed out that ILE was a CSR initiative by PharmEvo which started functioning in 2017. Leadership skills are very important for healthcare professionals but doctors are not trained in these skills. Heads of medical institutions, healthcare facilities need leadership skills. So far ILE has organized thirty training sessions for healthcare professionals. We have signed MOUs with numerous medical institutions, professional specialty organizations to train healthcare professionals in leadership skills.

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