Leadership and management courses share similarities but how do they lead to different career paths?
Are you a healthcare professional keen to pursue management or leadership jobs? Understanding the differences between leadership and management can help you make the right career decisions and choose the best path for you.
At GlobalHealth Education, we want to guide you to make an informed choice. In this article, we will shed light on the differences between leadership and management healthcare courses – and help you find the path towards making your career dreams a reality.
Defining the difference between leadership and management in healthcare
The terms ‘leadership’ and ‘management’ are often used interchangeably, but there are both significant and subtle differences between the two. In a healthcare setting, they encompass distinct skill sets and career trajectories. Knowing the difference will help you make important career decisions and choose a course that aligns best with your career goals.
Dr Raymond Wen, Chief Growth Officer at Telecare Australia, highlights the line between leadership and management by outlining the key focus of these two areas:
“Leadership involves aligning the organisation around ‘why’ you’re doing something as well as a little bit of the ‘how’. Whereas management is focusing more on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ and informing your team and educating them on how to carry out those functions.”
Choosing a course in healthcare leadership or management
When deciding between a leadership and a management course in healthcare, it can also help to understand the finer differences between the two areas. The table below includes those details to guide your decision on the best course area for your career goals.
|Strategy (long-term direction)
|Execution (daily operations, short-term goals)
|Lead and drive positive change, understand research, stakeholder management, strategic leadership, adapt to changing technology and healthcare systems, understand practice and policies, lead multidisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals
|Implement change management, problem-solving and analysis, people leadership, effective communication across teams
|Skills you’ll gain
|Communication skills, positive leadership, creative problem-solving, flexibility, ability to inspire, strategic thinking and planning, research skills, comprehending organisational behaviour, governance and accountability in healthcare
|Communication skills, interpersonal skills, organisation and planning, strategic thinking, change management, managing a team, planning and evaluation techniques, comprehending data and data sources, quality and risk and cost in healthcare
|Possible career paths
|Health unit coordinator, quality coordinator, healthcare manager, clinic manager, health services administrator, chief medical officer, laboratory director
|Medical office manager, healthcare consultant, risk and safety manager, clinical quality and safety manager, nurse manager/director, allied health manager, practice leader
Leaders look at the bigger picture. They craft and communicate a vision, empowering and motivating others to put it into practice. Essentially, leaders chart the path, make sure everyone understands it, and foster an atmosphere where individuals can step up, take the lead and turn ideas into reality.
Management is about orchestrating and supervising tasks, and guiding employees towards set goals while making the most of available resources. At its core, management revolves around efficiency and effectiveness. It’s about getting things done on time, adeptly solving problems, and achieving concrete results.
Elaborating on these two distinct but related roles, Dr Wen says, “Often the distinction is, as a leader, you set the strategic vision and the direction of a practice or clinical service, and then you allow your manager to implement that vision and manage the day-to-day operations as they see fit. It’s important not to blur those lines too much because sometimes, if you micromanage as a leader, it’s counterproductive. You don’t get the creativity from your team that could otherwise come from managers thinking about how to implement a vision.”
Healthcare leadership and healthcare management careers
Understanding your strengths and career aspirations is crucial when choosing between a healthcare leadership or healthcare management career.
If you’re considering a career in healthcare leadership, ask yourself if you have the ability and desire to collaborate with diverse stakeholders and inspire teams towards a shared vision.
If you’re looking into healthcare management, consider whether you are interested in the intricate workings of daily healthcare operations, making decisions to optimise efficiency.
Wen emphasises the importance of leaders understanding the daily operations to be more effective in guiding their organisations. He also notes that management courses can equip healthcare professionals with the leadership skills needed to excel in day-to-day healthcare settings.
“It is important as a leader to demonstrate that you are able to do the work, because I think that is part of leading from the front in any organisation. And it’s important to sometimes step in and do the work so you can understand what goes into the work, but also then realise where things may not be practical from a vision perspective to implement.”
Healthcare courses in leadership and management
Selecting the right healthcare course is one of the first steps towards a successful career in leadership or management.
Southern Cross University’s (SCU) Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Leadership will broaden your opportunities beyond frontline care. Whether you are a registered nurse or an allied health professional, this program will enable you to take a significant step forward in your healthcare career. You will become a strategic healthcare leader and gain the skill set to lead positive change in the industry. This graduate certificate is a pathway to SCU’s Master of Healthcare Leadership. With a master’s degree, you will have enhanced opportunities to excel and more transferable skills to take into your healthcare leadership career.
At the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), you have three online courses in healthcare management to choose from. The Graduate Certificate in Health Services Management welcomes health and social care professionals eager to champion change, fostering safer, more equitable, and value-driven services and systems. This flexible, part-time, and entirely online course equips students with a solid grasp of the intricacies of the Australian health and social care landscape.
You could also choose to study UTS’s Master of Health Services Management or Master of Health Services Management Majoring in Quality and Safety. Both courses will help you develop your critical thinking skills and influence policy and research to achieve clinical excellence and transform healthcare services. You will walk away with the skills to lead change across healthcare teams and organisations and improve systems and services across various healthcare settings.
Wen emphasises that the healthcare course you choose will really depend on your experience and the content of the course. He says, “I’ve undertaken a management course that’s helped my leadership, but at the same time, I’m aware of some of my colleagues pursuing leadership courses that will help with their management of particular clinical services.
For those who haven’t had any management experience, Wen suggests a possible course of action: “In my opinion, a management course may be better to start off with because it can give you concrete actions to tackle and then gain confidence before stepping into more leadership roles and working on the leadership aspects.”
He also highlights the importance of gaining practical experience in your area of specialisation: “I think it’s important to do the course while you’re undertaking some kind of practical application that you can apply your course to, that probably helps a lot in your learning.”
Begin your career in healthcare
Choosing the right leadership or management course is pivotal in shaping your career in the healthcare industry. Whether you aspire to lead transformative change or excel in operational efficiency, GlobalHealth Education’s university partners offer a range of programs to help you achieve your goals.
The courses below are listed by qualification level, from lowest to highest.