Tywauna Wilson, MBA, MLS (ASCP)CM, is a best-selling author, medical laboratory scientist, entrepreneur, podcast host, and award-winning leadership maven. She has over 15 years of proven health care and laboratory leadership experience with her most recent role serving as the system chemistry director at CompuNet Clinical Laboratories in Dayton, OH. Tywauna is also the owner/chief leadership consultant of Trendy Elite Coaching and Consulting where they provide essential leadership skills training to strengthen the development of today’s workforce. Tywauna holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University and a BS degree in clinical laboratory sciences from Kentucky State University. She is the host of the podcast “Leadership Tidbits with Coach Tee Wilson” and author of the best-selling book, Leadership Tidbits (2019).
As a medical laboratory leader, you have been trained and equipped with the technical skills and knowledge to perform your job duties with a high degree of accuracy and quality. But in addition to having the hard skills, you also need soft skills to work effectively with team members at all levels in the laboratory. Soft skills are the personal qualities that aren’t related to your job that help improve your performance by allowing you to effectively relate to other people.
Five top soft skills of successful laboratory leaders
Whether you are starting your career or have been in the profession for a while, there are five critical soft skills that you want to have in your tool box: communication, problem-solving, teamwork, time management, and delegation. These five soft skills have been linked to many exceptional laboratory leaders, and though they aren’t necessarily difficult to learn, they can take time to master.
Communication is identified as the number one essential soft skill of leaders. It’s important to be able to clearly communicate your message whether it is in verbal, nonverbal, or written form. Having the skill to connect with others in the way that they can best receive a message will have a positive impact on your leadership in the laboratory.
Problem-solving is having the ability to read between the lines and figure out what is going on so that you can look at a problem and think of possible solutions.
Teamwork teaches you how to work with others to achieve a common goal. If you’re going to work well with others, you must be able to see things from your colleagues’ perspectives. It’s about celebrating other people’s strengths and working together to minimize each other’s weaknesses.
Time management allows you to deal with the challenges that arise in the laboratory. It includes making proper use of your time so that you can organize priorities, focus on goals, and saying “no” to things that take away from your ability to do your best work.
Delegation allows you to use your time in the most efficient way possible while focusing on the bigger picture, rather than the small details. If you’re good at delegation, it shows that you trust the people you’re delegating to, and it shows that you’re not afraid to let go and let other people take charge of important projects.
How do laboratory leaders develop soft skills?
Soft skills can be learned by taking online courses, reading books, listening to podcasts, and even attending seminars. However, the way to truly develop what you’ve learned about soft skills is to implement and participate in activities that allow you to practice.
For example, if you want to improve your delegation skills, start by assigning some of your lower-priority projects to a team member. If you want to increase your communication skills, practice delivering presentations or giving and receiving feedback. If you desire to strengthen your teamwork skills, participate on committees and collaborative teams where you may be the laboratory representative with a group of nurses, physicians, or hospital executives. The more you practice sharpening these skills, the better you’ll get over time.
The key to a rewarding career
The laboratory is one of the most collaborative areas in health care. Regardless of your title, educational background, or even certification status, laboratory leaders need to have the soft skills to contribute to a more efficient, productive, and happier workplace. The leaders who can do this well have long and rewarding careers.