Top 10 qualities for a good manager in healthcare

Susanna Kahr

As with most things, there is an important duality present. Like there will always be both night and day, there will always be good and bad managers. In a field like healthcare, good management is even more vital – (pun intended) – when you are dealing with such sensitive work. You need someone who is up to the task with enough sensitivity and sensibility to properly take care of patients, and equally so, their team. In an industry like healthcare, the qualities we would usually associate with management are just a little bit different, and for good reason. We need emotionally intelligent, understanding people leading teams with the purpose to empower and achieve goals in a fast-paced environment. If you’ve ever wondered what qualities we are talking about, here are 10 qualities of a good manager in healthcare:

1. Empathic

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but empathy is one of the most important qualities to have when working in healthcare with people who are sick and need help from professionals. A manager who is able to understand and empathize with their patients sets an example for the rest of the team to be understanding of the patient’s needs and struggles. Also, they empathize with their team, feeling out bad situations and when team members might need support.

“Treat clients like they have value and meaning.” – anonymous employer review at Austin State Hospital 

2. Open minded

Being able to understand the individual wishes and needs of both patients and team members, and the ability to think outside of the box are key attributes in a good manager. They should be able to think outside of the box and find new challenges, solutions and better communication tactics for when they are needed. They should be welcoming to new ideas and feedback and be ready to switch things up for a better work climate, especially in a field like healthcare where hours tend to be longer and team members spend a lot of time together.

“Very open minded company, with great communication in regards to all areas of work and life.” – anonymous employer review at Warren Clinic

3. Communication oriented

In order to maintain a healthy level of open-mindedness, it is equally valuable to be communication oriented. Communication is key; this is an absolute universally relevant statement. Communication is what drives the team forward and circumvents potential issues both in the social and working sphere. Knowing how to express feedback, concerns, praise and also knowing how to just casually talk with your team creates a level-headed environment that will also seep into the work with patients.

“Transparency from management in terms of communicating clear goals and expectations, with prospects for career advancement and financial incentives spelled out which are delivered if/when goals are met.” – anonymous employer review at CHRISTUS Health

4. Patient

Working for hours – sometimes days – on end with a team of people feeling various different feelings at once is no easy feat. This means it is especially important to be patient. Knowing how each of your team works and being patient with the ones who work differently than others only benefits you as a manager. It has been proven that managers who are patient with an individual’s own ways of working instead of making them conform to a specific and standardized mold, end up being more productive and eager to work than those pressed into the mold.

5. Empowering and passionate

We lead by example. A manager that doesn’t motivate and empower its team only creates a cycle of low energy and complacency. Results and motivation don’t come from thin air. If a manager shows traits of passion and love for their job, this will be mirrored in their team. Actively going out and empowering teammates to be their best selves and do their best job, is certainly an important quality for a manager.

6. Goal oriented

Big passion and motivation need goals to follow. A good manager knows how to not only empower their team but bring forth important goals. In such a fast-paced industry, everchanging goals that bring results are crucial. Goals to optimize patient turn-over, quicker visits or better services are just a few important things to keep in mind for a goal-oriented manager.

“Leadership sets clear goals for improvement and has great organizational development.” – anonymous employer review at UC Health 

7. Emotionally intelligent

Telling a ribcage from an elbow is certainly important, but feeling out situations and working intuitively is just as relevant. Managers need to know how to feel out the general moods and issues and how to tackle them intelligently, avoiding even bigger consequences. This is important for both the team and the job itself.

“My manager is the BEST. She goes to bat for us if we need her to and she it super understanding when things happen.” – anonymous employer review at Memorial Hospital 

8. Fast paced

A wrong E-Mail might not be life or death in an office, but in healthcare, small hiccups can indeed be. For this reason, it is imperative for managers to be quick thinkers and faced paced. There isn’t always time for a long meeting or drawn out sessions. Managers should be quick on their feet for their teams to ensure that things get done.

9. Transparent

No one likes being left out of the loop or left walking away with more questions than when they walked in. For this reason, it is so important to keep your team aware of everything going on, as a manager. Hard truths are more necessary than comfortable lies; keeping it straight and being open with your team and in your work will only solidify a good team spirit and effort.

“A company that is 1) transparent and 2) merit based, with clearly communicated goals that allows for upward mobility.” – anonymous employer review at CHRISTUS Health 

10. Understanding

Working in healthcare is hard, this can’t be denied. Understanding and respecting people’s boundaries, needs and goals plays into the other emotionally intelligent qualities we listed earlier. It’s easier said than done, but showing understanding in trying times – and actually understanding- will show beneficial in future situations when it will be necessary in return.


As can be observed, a managerial position in healthcare isn’t quite a slow and tranquil walk in the park. Those that take their baby blue and bright white strides in clinics and hospitals have a lot they need to do and teams to manage. This is why we think it’s important to consider the best ways to be the best manager you can be, to create the best team.


Here at kununu, we’re doing all we can to help you to land your dream job! Our employer rating platform currently has 3,894,008 authentic company reviews on personal experience, salary, company climate, and application processes for 929,040 companies, meaning that you can find out everything you need to know about all kinds of employers and, ultimately, land the right job for you.