Three top tips to being a great clinical leader

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences is launching a new award course – the Specialist Certificate in Clinical Leadership in 2017. Course coordinator Professor Jill Klein provides some top tips for clinical leaders below.


  1. Understand that leadership and management are not the same thing.

    Managers organise, plan and budget. They solve problems and manage staffing and staff performance. Leaders bring about change and transform others: they devise strategies for change, communicate their vision of the future, and motivate others to contribute to the realisation of this vision.

  2. Recognise that change is hard.

    Clinical settings are often imbued with long-held, entrenched views of how things should be done. Asking people to do things differently can represent a substantial threat to their identity and sense of competence and comfort. In reaction, they are likely to push back against change efforts. Understanding the psychology behind change and how to motivate others to take on new approaches can greatly improve your chances of bringing about lasting change in your organisation.

  3. Leadership requires skill, and this can be learned.

    Leaders aren’t born, they are made through experience and training. Leaders need to be resilient and possess emotional competence. They also benefit from the ability to influence others, negotiate for the resources they need and leverage funding. While these skills are all necessary for effective leadership, there are few opportunities within clinical training that allow for their development. Fortunately, these abilities can be cultivated and improved upon through learning and practice.

Jill is the Professorial Fellow in Medical Education at the Melbourne Medical School and a Professor of Management at Melbourne Business School. She specialises in clinical decision making, leadership, emotional intelligence, and resilience. 

Her research interests are medical decision making, junior doctor resilience in the face of medical error, and medical student wellbeing. She has had articles published in the British Medical Journal, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Management Science, Journal of International Business Studies and Journal of Marketing.

Applications are now open for the Specialist Certificate in Clinical Leadership. Further details can be found at the course webpage: