Physical Therapy Owner Leadership Types

Which Leader Are You? The 4 Types of Physical Therapy Owners

As a small business owner, it’s fundamental to have the leadership qualities that not only steer the operations of your business, but also influence and guide the actions and behaviors of your staff. 

As practice management specialists, we spend a lot of time developing the CEO and Executive-level training for physical therapy owners that nurture the important leadership qualities which help you successfully take on the ownership responsibilities that align with your organization’s values and mission. 

In doing so, we’ve found there are four common leadership styles of physical therapy owners. Which one are you?

The 4 Types of Physical Therapy Leaders


The Innocent Owner:

This first Physical Therapy owner type typically wasn’t planning on becoming an owner. Usually, they fell into an ownership opportunity that they couldn’t refuse. Nevertheless, the Innocent Owner has the mindset of a senior clinician, determined to do what they can to help their peers. 

A breakdown of The Innocent Owner style of leadership:

Their management style is that of a poll taker, where they feel better knowing that others agree with them. They like to gather consensus because they struggle with the self-confidence necessary to lead and make their own decisions. They’re more comfortable as a therapist and part of the team than being an elevated boss-type. Their level of ambition as an owner is often limited to just opening one location. 

The Benefits of The Innocent Owner Leadership Style:  

  • They know what they don’t know and aren’t afraid to admit it or ask for help.
  • They’re willing to train if it will make them a better owner. 
  • They admit that being a good owner/leader isn’t the same as being a good clinician.


The Caregiver Owner:

The second leadership style of Physical Therapy owner prides themselves on being a great therapist. The Caregiver Owner gets more joy out of treating patients more than any other role in the company. An overwhelming majority of these types of owners are in partnerships since they want to be the PT who happens to own a clinic. 

A breakdown of The Caregiver Owner style of leadership:

These owners equate making more money and profit as a threat to patient care. They can, at times, take on the martyr role and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. They often play the role of a “pleaser” – ensuring everyone is taken care of appropriately. The Caregiver Owner usually has little to no interest in financial matters and dislikes stats, metrics and quotas. Their management style is more than just a poll taker because, for them, this is a democracy and everyone should have an equal vote. 

The Benefits of The Caregiver Owner Leadership Style:  

  • They are quick to sacrifice time and salary to justify moves that put the patients first.
  • They see themselves as a PT first and an owner second.
  • They have the least confrontational style of all four types of owners.


The Know It All Owner:

The third Physical Therapy leader is perhaps the most seasoned of them all. In fact, the Know It All Owner has usually been in business before or has been open for some time. As a result, they consider their past learning and experiences unique, but despite having experienced past successes, they now find themselves struggling. 

A breakdown of The Know It All Owner style of leadership:

They don’t know what they don’t know. They have more fixed ideas of how a PT practice should run and are often resistant to change. These owners tend to be micro-managers in their management style. They tend to avoid collaborating and usually do not have partners. They typically are not very transparent with their staff. When things fail to go right, they tend to have many justifications. Their strategy for testing things out is to jump right in without running a pilot program first. This owner has taken little to no courses in personal development training or executive leadership training.

The Benefits of The Know It All Leadership Style:  

It should come as no surprise that there are almost no benefits of being The Know It All Owner. The good news is that, by opening up to the personal development that they’ve long been resistant to, these owners can easily identify what it takes to change course and revamp their practice.


The Go-Getter Owner:

The final type of Physical Therapy owner is highly motivated and tends to be the most successful. The Go-Getter Owner typically has thought about running a business far in advance of doing it. Their entrepreneurial spirit has helped them map out a vision of owning their own practice and, as a result, they can describe their ideal scene. 

A breakdown of The Go-Getter Owner style of leadership:

Leadership comes naturally to this owner type. Thanks to a history of leading versus following in prior jobs, school activities and personal organizations, The Go-Getter Owner thinks more like an entrepreneur first, a manager second and a therapist third. They gravitate toward plans, spreadsheets and data over expanding their patient case load. They have invested time into training themselves as an administrator, executive and leader. 

The Benefits of The Go-Getter Owner Leadership Style:  

  • They are dedicated to seeing their vision through and delivering on their brand promise.
  • They see training as an ongoing process so they invest in the tools their staff needs.
  • This owner thinks in the future tense most of the time, planning for the long term.

Become the Leader Your Physical Therapy Clinic Deserves

Want to talk through your current leadership goals with a MEG Coach? We’d be happy to offer a free practice assessment that would cover the ownership responsibilities you’re taking on and which ones you can delegate to staff. Request a free practice assessment today.

Additionally, you’re invited to enroll in our CEU-certified course, The 4 Keys to Private Practice Success Program. This self-assessment tool will evaluate your practice’s environment, structure, personnel and systems of operation so you can find ways to increase efficiency and productivity.

4 Keys to Practice Management Success

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