In any business or professional venture, leaders will inevitably encounter risks that present both challenges and opportunities. Possessing the necessary skills to effectively manage, mitigate, and capitalize on risk as it appears is essential for successful leaders regardless of industry.

In health care, risk management has become even more critical in recent years due to the rapid adoption of advanced technology and increasing concerns regarding patient security and satisfaction. The necessity of contingency plans in case of a cyberattack, natural d​isaster, or other major event became clear in 2020, further cementing the importance of risk management skills for leaders in health care and other industries as well.

For optimal risk management, leaders should ensure they foster critical skills, including an analytical mind, a solutions-based attitude, relationship-building and communication proficiency, and the ability to thrive under pressure. With these skills, leaders can be more efficient and productive risk managers in their roles.

An Analytical Mind

Collecting and analyzing data is a big part of risk management, but possessing an analytical mind means leaders can take this practice a step further. Identifying trends in data to assess and predict potential risks is only the beginning; leaders must also be confident enough in their analysis to make strategic decisions, many of which will be difficult or tricky.

Additional benefits of an analytical mind include an eye for detail, the ability to identify where information is inconclusive or insufficient, and a propensity to see both the larger picture and the day-to-day elements that impact financial or security risks. Leaders who are analytical can more effectively assess, minimize, and capitalize on risk because of these aforementioned tendencies and skills.

A Solutions-Based Attitude

Natural curiosity and a desire to identify and address the root of an issue are essential for risk management, and leaders who are determined to find and implement effective solutions through continued education, trial and error, and innovation are bound to succeed in managing risk and leading effectively.

By pursuing solutions to problems as they arise, rather than succumbing to anxiety and avoiding risk altogether, leaders who embrace risk management as a key part of their roles will likely find opportunities within challenges and achieve greater individual and organizational success.

Relationship-Building and Communication Skills

Effective risk managers understand that strong relationships are cornerstones in business and industry. By building trust through open, honest communication and dedicated connection efforts with key players such as board members, external experts, stakeholders, and more, leaders can ensure they have a cultivated network that can effectively address risks as they arise.

In order to form strong, lasting connections with other professionals and colleagues for the sake of risk management, leaders must be able to communicate their insights and ideas to a variety of individuals. Creating risk reports and explaining complex methods to individuals with differing levels of experience and know-how is part of the job, so leaders must develop their communication skills accordingly.

To succeed in building relationships for risk management purposes, leaders need to cultivate strong negotiation skills as well as diplomacy, tact, and public speaking.

An Ability to Thrive Under Pressure

Managing risk for a business or organization, especially in health care, is a stressful task with a lot of associated responsibility. Successful risk management necessitates effective use of stress as a motivator, meaning that leaders must work to remain as objective and rational as possible without allowing their emotions to interfere with their decision-making process.

Remaining calm when the stakes are high can be challenging. In fields where lives may be at stake, in addition to financial and security loss, stress levels can be high even without the pressure of assessing, combating, and using the risk involved. The ability to stay level-headed and make informed decisions even when the pressure is high is invaluable to leaders, and while developing this skill takes time, it will certainly prove invaluable to leaders in any industry.

Technical Knowledge

In addition to soft skills, leaders will also benefit from financial knowledge and other technical skills specific to their industries in their risk management endeavors. By increasing their awareness of relevant factors and trends, leaders can more effectively assess and approach risk daily as well as on a larger scale.

In health care specifically, leaders should have a fundamental understanding of essential technology and software. From patient databases to billing systems, health care leaders need to know how things work and why their function is critical to optimal performance, care, and risk management.

Because risk management requires leaders to collaborate with professionals and experts in other fields or specializations, technical knowledge can help provide a bridge that facilitates clear, effective communication between involved parties, promoting greater efficacy in solution generation and implementation. Because risk management is critical to preserving sensitive information, financial security, and optimized operations, leaders must be knowledgeable and open to learning more.

In any leadership position, risk management is critical for long-term success. For health care professionals, effectively managing risk can improve patient satisfaction, heighten data security, and promote higher standards of innovation, especially regarding technological evolution. Leaders who recognize the importance of risk management in their roles and strive to cultivate necessary skills are more likely to achieve greater success. 

Avi Philipson is CEO of Graph Group, an investment firm in the areas of capital, insurance, real estate, and health care.