A timely and tremendous study just published by Tait D. Shanafelt, MD et al in the Mayo Clinic Proceeding, “Impact of Organizational Leadership on Physician Burnout and Satisfaction,” describes how leadership effectiveness (or lack of) can directly impacts physician satisfaction.  I have no doubt this will be a landmark study that will inspire healthcare organizations to rethink how they are approaching leadership development — not just for physicians but also for non-clinician healthcare executives.

The study found a strong correlation between physician sense of fulfillment and their responses to 12 questions about their supervisor.  This is what I find exciting: When you look at the 12 questions, it’s not hard to see that almost every dimension can be improved through physician leadership training and focused coaching.

Here are the 12 areas where physicians were asked to rate from a scale of 1 to 5:

Items Evaluating Physician Opinion of the Leadership Qualities of Their Immediate Physician Supervisor

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about (name of immediate supervisor)?

  • Holds career development conversations with me
  • Inspires me to do my best
  • Empowers me to do my job
  • Is interested in my opinion
  • Encourages employees to suggest ideas for improvement
  • Treats me with respect and dignity
  • Provides helpful feedback and coaching on my performance
  • Keeps me informed about changes taking place at Mayo Clinic
  • Recognizes me for a job well done
  • Encourages me to develop my talents and skills
  • I would recommend working for (name of immediate supervisor)
  • Overall, how satisfied are you with (name of immediate supervisor)

The study results are nothing short of a call to action to revamp and rethink physician leadership development approaches:

“These findings demonstrate the importance of front line leadership on the well-being and professional satisfaction of physicians working for a large health care organization. Leadership ratings demonstrated a strong association with burnout and satisfaction at the level of individual physicians after adjusting for age, sex, duration of employment at Mayo Clinic, and specialty area.”

The dimensions of effective physician leadership as evaluated by the composite leader score in our study could be summarized as follows: inform, engage, inspire, develop, and recognize. Many of the leadership qualities we evaluated in these dimensions were specific and teachable behaviors, such as keeping people informed, encouraging reports to suggest ideas for improvement, having career development conversations, providing feedback and coaching, and recognizing a job well done.

As an executive coach for physician leaders for over 15 years, I am thrilled to see this research support what I have observed and coached for almost two decades.  Furthermore, the authors’ conclusions that these important dimensions of physician leadership are teachable is right on the mark.  Every organization would do well to create a simple coaching program to teach those very dimensions the authors delineate as being essential: inform, engage, inspire, develop, recognize.  In fact, these coaching skills are the core of what the Physician Coaching Institute teaches in our “Coaching Skills Essentials for Physician Leaders” course.


I am please to announce that my Physician Success Notes audio learning  is now available as a free coaching resource.  Previously this “mini-MBA” was a resource I made available only to my private clients or to health systems whose physicians I was  team coaching.

These 10-minute “Physician Success Notes” audio seminars are delivered to you by email every week for 12 weeks. I break down a handful of “essential strategies” that that have helped my physician clients be more effective and productive as business leaders.

The twelve audio seminars are not only the strategies, but also the simple actions steps you can easily digest and apply in your daily life throughout the month. Instead of having to “hit the books” for hours on end, you’ll take away proven steps to make real changes in your life - in just 10 easy minutes.

Register for audio series here.


I just attended an excellent Webinar sponsored by Modern Healthcare on the topic of Physician burnout and the approach three organizations have taken to remedy the situation.

As a coach specializing in physician career fulfillment and leadership effectivess, this topic is of course near and dear to my heart.  What I was excited about in the presentations is that large health systems are thinking about what they can offer physicians to improve well-being and resilience.  From structured facilitated sessions (ie time off), to Schwartz Rounds, to opportunities for coaching, health systems are taking big steps to address burnout.

The slides (and recording I think) will be available on Slideshare here:


How Can You LOVE Work, as a Physician?

A recent article in the New York Times, “Why You Hate Work,”  shares the results from The Energy Project, a company that probed over 12,000 white collar employees, on their attitudes towards work. In a sentence:  the more refreshed, valued and connected we are to our work, and the more spiritually connected we our to […]

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Finding the Coaching in Criticism: HBR Explores Why Feedback Doesn’t Work

In the January-February issue of Harvard Business Review, authors Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone explore a conundrum in their article, Find the Coaching in Criticism:  Feedback is important, and yet, feedback doesn’t work. More from the article:  What makes receiving feedback so hard? The process strikes at the tension between two core human needs—the need […]

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Physician Leaders Can Use Body Language to Boost Confidence and Power

I was intrigued by a TED Talk given by  Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, who  investigates how people judge each other and themselves.  According to Cuddy, we make judgments along two critical trait dimensions:  warmth/trustworthiness and competence/power.  These visceral judgements then greatly determine outcomes, such as who we promote, […]

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Physicians, Tap Into Your Potential

The following was an interview I did with Physician’s Practice in 2003, almost 10 years ago!  I think it’s as timely now as it was then.  —- Francine Tap Into Your Potential First published in Physicians Practice July 01, 2003 | Healthcare Careers By Bob Keaveney   An interview with Francine Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, […]

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Get a Virtual Assistant for these 3 Business Building Tasks

Get a virtual assistant to help you with these 3 main tasks that will have an immediate impact on the growth of your business. Get a Virtual Assistant for these 3 Business Building Tasks [ 3:02 ] Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Content for Your Articles Comes from “Moments of Zen”

Where can your article, blog, and newsletter content come from? Easy! Observe yourself for half a day with your clients and make note of the insights you take for granted. Those are moments of Zen and you better write them down! Content for Your Articles Comes from “Moments of Zen” [ 2:51 ] Play Now […]

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Get Clear About Your Philosophy: It Will Power Your Business

It’s important to be clear about your philosophy. It is the electricity that streams through the other components of your infrastructure. Take time with your own coach or through retreats, journaling or meditation to get clear. Get Clear About Your Philosophy: It Will Power Your Business [ 3:27 ] Play Now | Play in Popup […]

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Don’t Create New Content: Look Inside Your Hard Drive

What you take for granted in the form of your journaling, musing, responses to clients – all of this is good content for blog posts or short articles. Don’t Create New Content: Look Inside Your Hard Drive [ 3:19 ] Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Send Out a Year End Summation to Your Clients

Your list will enjoy reading about your accomplishments, training, insights, and client achievements. It’s very easy to create a Year-End Summation newsletter. Send Out a Year End Summation to Your Clients [ 3:00 ] Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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