Health care is arguably one of the toughest fields in which to become a leader. Health care professionals are meticulously trained practitioners with staggering demands on their time and psyches and the need for perfect execution in their practice. There’s no question that demand for health care are rocking our world and are being driven by political forces and an increased need for more health care services, providers and workers.

Our research at the Healthcare Coaching Institute has given us some invaluable insight into the demand for organizations to continue to develop talent and grow leadership. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care support, practitioner and technical occupations are projected to be the fastest-growing occupational groups between 2016 and 2026. With a combined growth rate of 18 percent, these groups are projected to contribute the greatest number of new jobs: 2.4 million. Similarly, the World Health Organization reports that more than 40 million health care workers will be needed in 194 countries by 2024.

Of course, the list of stakeholders mirrors that growth in demand. Currently, there are at least 16 key players in an expanding field that we label in “P words”: payers, purchasers, pharma, public, potential patients, practitioners, pastors, prospectors, profiteers, press, policymakers, politicians, police, population, proponents, pioneers and peers.

The leaders of these 16 populations have vastly different needs, accountabilities and business imperatives. They also may not fully understand their and others’ responsibilities and obligations to patients. There’s a real tension among payers, purchasers, politicians and providers when it comes to reaching a definition about what is “best” for a patient. And let’s face it – we are all patients at some point in our lives, from the time we are born until we leave the planet, making this conversation a significant one for everyone to explore – together.

Let’s review the landscape to better understand what health care leaders are facing. We have rapid growth in demand. Rapid growth in provision. Rapid growth in scientific development, which is changing the very nature of patient outcomes. Rapid growth in a complex pool of various stakeholders working toward differing objectives.

This landscape poses two challenging questions: First, where do you begin to develop the talent? And second, what do organizations need to do to support their leaders and managers?

In our work, we introduce coaching at a high-level context, and then go deeper in our explorations to determine where leaders need to become adaptive and let go of perfection as a practice to better connect with their peers and employees. In this discovery, they seek to team up in innovative new ways. Coaching is the technology of development that supports executive sponsors and talent development professionals in finding their own competitive edge so they can partner more easily when addressing the industry’s need for innovation. And innovation in health care requires each leader to take a deep breath and risk putting forward their boldest and bravest ideas to executives, boards of directors and the populations they serve.

A quick answer to these questions, or a good place to start to answer them, is another question: What can you imagine? And, after pondering that question for a few minutes, what can we imagine together?

Coaching conveys people to inner wisdom, a quiet mind and a more creative answer. Coaching is also a conversational model that begins with what you can imagine. Take a few minutes to list the top three things you can imagine changing in health care as it touches you in the consumer or patient space. You may find a new point of entry to discover better solutions to important problems.

I have witnessed academic medical doctors and health care professionals learn coaching skills and take their innovative ideas into systems where those ideas are either embraced to help drive changes or have no point of entry. The invitation is for executives and learning development professionals to make coaching a central theme for understanding and conveying people to find meaning beyond patient cases.

By bringing focus to developing leadership skills, health care organizations can send a clear message about managing a complex culture in an environment of rapid growth and change: We’re ready for the future, and we’re committed to uncovering and providing the best answers for our employees, teams and organizations, which will translate into change for our communities and the patients we serve.

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