Physical Therapy Leader versus Manager

Understanding the Difference Between Leadership and Management

Many people use the terms leader and manager interchangeably, but there are fundamental differences between leadership and management. In the private practice, leaders and managers are critical members of a physical therapy practice’s success.

It’s helpful to understand these different roles to ensure that your leaders and managers have the right physical therapy resources and training to help them succeed. 

Based on our experience working with practices all over the U.S., here are the top 5 differences we’ve noted between private practice leadership and management.

Vision Vs. Execution

Simply put, leadership is a visionary role, and private practice management is the function that executes that vision. 

Managers play an essential role in supporting the leader’s vision, ensuring that the goals, mission and vision of the clinic are effectively communicated to the rest of the PT practice, carried out and then measured. 

If you’re leading a private practice, the best way you can support your management team is by clearly communicating your vision for the practice’s growth with all staff. Your staff will appreciate being included in your vision and will work harder to make it happen when you bring them into the process.

Why Vs. How

Leaders spend a lot of time envisioning the what and why. Perhaps your goal as a leader is to improve your patient retention so you can grow the number of practice locations over the next three years. 

Management will then need to work with staff to identify how to change methods to increase retention and when to roll them out, executing the control processes required to move forward toward that goal.

Leaders share a top-level plan, and managers create the people-based processes to carry out this plan. Leaders can help keep the practice employees excited about the future, reducing internal friction for the manager’s changes.

Inspiration Vs. Accountability

While leaders can inspire their team, managers need to work with the practice’s staff on the day-to-day to help develop and grow the employees and manage accountability. 

If a leader isn’t inspiring and communicating with the team sufficiently, it makes it far more difficult for managers to develop and motivate everyone. Once again, communication is a critical element of physical therapy management training programs.

Planning for the Future Vs. Examining the Present

Leadership’s vision will span far into the future, planning the path for the private practice. Leaders get to be dreamers and planners. 

Managers are grounded in current operations, yet their input can be invaluable to leaders as managers understand better than leaders the day-to-day details of the private practice which need to be understood and managed to meet those ambitious goals.

Creating Culture Vs. Practicing It

Leaders create a practice’s culture, and managers endorse that culture – giving it their full support. Managers work more closely with practice staff as “boots on the ground” with the team, making their opinion critical to the staff. 

Leaders need to understand this relationship, since it’s critical to get buy-in from managers as it can make or break the clinic’s goals.

MEG Supports Managers and Leaders Alike

MEG Academy offers physical therapy leadership training as well as a host of other proven courses that can help you accelerate your leadership and management team’s success. 

Check out the various courses and certifications that will deliver the personnel training and retention strategy necessary to join the top 10% of private practices!

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