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Developing a Quantitative Skill Set to Become a Better Leader

By January 16, 2018June 11th, 2019Leadership
Developing a Quantitative Skill Set to Become a Better Leader

The ASC industry is challenged by the same issues as other industries – the need to find, employ, and empower good managers and leaders.

Throughout my career, I have engaged in the search for potential leaders who possess the powerful mix of interpersonal communication skills, a background in clinical medicine and/or its operations, and financial acumen. With heavy competition to hire strong leaders in health care, we are fortunate when we secure candidates who possess two out of these three skills.

For example, many ASC administrators possess the interpersonal skill set and background in clinical medicine, but they lack a solid foundation in finance and mathematics. Oftentimes, we hire or promote these individuals and work closely with them to develop the financial and quantitative skills necessary to successfully manage and lead a surgery center.

A great starting point for health care managers seeking to improve their financial acumen is “Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Managers.” This resource is offered through many different authors and training organizations. While one-on-one mentoring is preferred, studying the book or attending the course allows those with minimal prior exposure to these principles to achieve a reasonable to high level of competency in financial and quantitative analysis.

Recently, I read an article by Alexandra Samuel in the Wall Street Journal titled “How I Beat Math Phobia – and Became a Better Entrepreneur.”[1] In this article, Ms. Samuel discusses her “math phobia.” It opened my eyes to why many people say they are not “numbers” people. While they may be fully capable of handling numbers-related tasks (calculating a tip, balancing their checkbook), they may have an ingrained fear of complex math or be intimidated by accounting principles.

Ms. Samuels outlines four approaches anyone can take to defeat their “math phobia” and improve their quantitative skill set and financial understanding.

  1. Find a mentor to assist you with increasing your comfort with numbers. (Managers and leaders who are comfortable with math and finances, make yourselves available as a mentor or resource to team members who self-identify as “non-numbers” people.)
  2. Immerse yourself in a “passionate project” requiring numbers, math, or quantitative analysis. In the ASC industry, the project could be related to productivity, reducing waste, improving quality, increasing profitability, or monitoring business development efforts.
  3. Look for a quantitative question you are desperate to answer. Many questions related to an ASC’s performance have a quantitative basis. Ms. Samuels suggests, “All of those questions are answerable with data, and they can drive your recovery from math phobia.”
  4. Determine if your math anxiety is related to the gender factor. As a brother of two sisters, both of whom have science and health care degrees, as well as the father of two daughters who are quite competent in math, I hadn’t considered how gender may impact someone’s view of math and quantitative analysis. After reading Ms. Samuels’ article, I now recognize as a business owner, manager, and leader, I need to be cognizant a gender impact exists for quantitative and math comfort. I also realized that to effectively identify and develop talent, we need to address this issue by encouraging the use of the three tactics outlined above and other available techniques.

Math is important to every role in every organization. When “math phobia” is removed, one may find comfort in the reliability of numbers and equations. Developing a quantitative skill set and financial acumen takes effort, but it begins with support and a nudge in the right direction. No one should shy away from math and finance out of fear. Wise managers and leaders will provide team members with tools to deal with math phobia or they will miss out on the opportunity to secure the services of many talented people.

Robert Carrera, President/CEO



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