Left Brain, Right Brain – Dyad Leadership in Healthcare

By November 3, 2020April 12th, 2021Coaching, Leadership, Strategy

Left Brain, Right Brain – Dyad Leadership in Healthcare

Daniel Pink in his book “A Whole New Mind” discusses that the future that will include Asia, Globalization,  and increased complexity in our lives and businesses will require that we access both side of our brain, specially our right brain. The difference between what right brain is responsible for versus what left brain is responsible for is as follows:

He also discussed the following shift:

While keeping all of this in mind, in healthcare, our answer to right brain, left brain is a dyad model.  A dyad is a co-management model designed to bridge the gaps between clinical and administrative responsibilities. The hypothesis is that by bringing clinical leadership and administrative leadership together in a formal dyad management, we would be able to eliminate the silos and the divide between clinicians and administrators and create better alignment through shared goals.

The challenge with dyad is the assumption that putting people together in a co-management arrangement would work out just fine and on its own.

In fact, many dyad relationships and service line transformations fail due to the following factors:

  • The existing structure and culture
  • Lack of leadership
  • Lack of clarity of roles and goals
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of open and honest communication
  • Lack of commitment
  • Lack of accountability



Leadership and the Existing Structure and Culture

In his famous Harvard Business Review article, “Accelerate,” HBR November 2012 issue, John Kotter, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership Emeritus at Harvard Business School and the author of 17 books, including “Leading Change,” discusses the importance of having more leadership, not just more management to accelerate change. Kotter argues that existing traditional hierarchies and culture would inhibit the success of any change. He advocates for organizing an army of volunteers or new leaders in “two structures, one organization.” Establishing a separate structure, made up of an army of volunteers to improve and implement strategies and that is not inhibited by the existing traditional hierarchies is a more effective way to accelerate change.

Adapted from HBR article, “Accelerate,” HBR November 2012 issue, John Kotter


Similar to Kotter, in our work at CTI Leadership, we found that the best way to accelerate the success of dyads and service line transformation is to establish a second structure through dyad leadership academies. These academies are designed to develop healthcare dyad leadership by giving them a structured and well-organized cohort experience. Through a year-long academy experience, dyad leaders would feel the power of a group and build trust and emotional safety with each other.

At the core of a successful department hierarchy is physician leadership and competent management. A successful service line, by contrast, needs lots of leadership, which means it operates with different processes, language and expectations. The service line game is all about shared vision, growth opportunities, agility, dealing with complexity, overcoming silos, harmonizing competing priorities, inspiring actions, and celebrating combined successes—not just project management, budget reviews, reporting relationships, compensation, and accountability to a plan.

In a dyad academy, dyad leaders get support through learning, coaching and joint service line projects where they are implementing joint service line goals and/or solving an issue together and exercising those co-creation and engagement muscles with others.

During the academy, the dyads would focus on key dyad leadership success factors:

  1. Clarity: having clear roles, goals and expectations
  2. Trust: having more confidence in each other and the understanding that that each dyad partner has good intentions and there is no need to be defensive with each other.
  3. Open and honest communication: having more open, candid unguarded communication and willingness to confront vital issues with each other and other team members
  4. Commitments: being committed to shared goals and making timely decision
  5. Accountability: holding each other accountable to outcomes and putting shared goals above ego and interest.

Through these exercises, they will build the key leadership skills of “leading self” first, building trusting relationships, actively listening, leading others through change, having courageous and difficult conversations, holding each other and others accountable, influencing others, and dealing with push back and resistance from other entrenched silos and hierarchies.


For more information about developing high performing dyad leadership, please contact us at ctileadership@ctileadership.com.