Basic Business Cents
Business Management Education for Professionals
Several years ago, Dan Johnson, Pastor of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Edina MN shared with me an enigma that Pastors’ face. They go to school and get their degree in theology and then get assigned to a church. Their education has been very thorough on religious subjects but nothing on business and now they are faced with managing a fairly large business. Dan started a Leadership Academy for Ministers in which he arranged for leaders from industry come in and present subjects in their area of expertise. These classes were filled to capacity with Ministers from around the state eager to learn.
Dan recognized and filled one of societies unmet needs. A similar need undoubtedly exists for doctors, lawyers, accountants, veterinarians, and other professionals. They enthusiastically pursue an education in their field of interest, which does not include classes on leadership and management of a business.
Doctors, for example, are drawn to health care because they want to dedicate their life’s work on doing something good, helping patients. Altruism is key to their makeup and they cannot succeed as physicians without it. They value their independence but medicine is seeing an explosion of knowledge, is increasingly complex, and requires increasing numbers of specialists in narrow fields, therefore creating the need to work in teams in clinics and hospitals. Choices for top management or administers of clinics and hospitals can be of two types-professional managers without a degree in medicine who face the constant lack of respect by doctors because of the lack of understanding of medicine, or doctors who lack education in how to manage a business.
Heading the management team in healthcare is difficult because of the idealistic nature of the people that it attracts who value their autonomy. Healthcare leaders need to work carefully to develop a shared vision of the future state of the organization and then get all involved in identifying the necessary steps to achieve that vision. How to do that takes education and training.
A classmate of mine at Pepperdine University of Los Angeles was a sharecropper’s daughter who made her way up through a medical degree and a promising career as a family doctor. She decided she was going to open a clinic in Watts, a poorer section of Los Angeles, but recognized her shortcomings in running a business. She enrolled in an executive program for a Masters Degree in Business Administration in order to enhance her chances of success. This entailed 25-30 hours per week for two years of study and classes in addition to her medical practice, but she did it. That takes extraordinary dedication.
Similar scenarios exist for lawyers, accountants, and other professionals. Forward thinking educational institutions will imbed basic business courses in their curricula but there will be an additional need for training by consultants and specialized schools at the time needed. If the need is exposed, it will be filled but the real dilemma may be for the new leaders of professional groups to realize they are missing something in their education.