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3 Soft Skills Every Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Should Have Mastered

The job of a CMO is complex and challenging. The CMO’s role “revolves around influencing physicians and clinical administrators to create working relationships that benefit both.” To achieve this goal, not only must a CMO have deep expertise and extensive training, but they also need exceptional soft skills. Soft skills often are what sets good CMOs apart from the great. So, what are the necessary soft skills a CMO must  master to be successful?

The Three Soft Skills that Successful CMOs Demonstrate


First and foremost, a CMO needs to be a strong leader. Within the realm of leadership, a CMO must serve as a role model for their medical and administrative staff. They must display integrity, fairness and compassion. A CMO must inspire those around them. By serving as an inspiration, a CMO creates a positive work environment which benefits all stakeholders.

For example, CMO Dr. Hoda Asmar, M.D. states, “physicians are becoming equal partners and highly aligned with the organization. The CMO has a major role in leading this transformational change, linking various stakeholders and finding common needs and goals to create alignment and successfully achieve superior clinical, strategic and operational results.”

Furthermore, it is essential that a CMO is balanced in their approach to leadership and management. Per Tim Mulvaney, UHC Solutions’ CEO/President, “staying balanced” is of the utmost importance regarding successful leadership for a CMO.  Balance in leadership prevents a CMO from taking an ego dominant position (“everyone is against me”). A lack of balance makes it “impossible to meet the needs of patients, providers, and management” staff.

Strategic Thinking

A successful CMO must think ahead and plan for all probable outcomes. A CMO must be able to assess community medical needs and develop strategies to target those needs. When crafting strategies, a CMO must also think about the business impact of all proposed policies and plans. However, it is essential not to let business goals drive all decision making. Per Tim Mulvaney, UHC Solutions’ CEO/President “if a physician leader is only interested in making the last dollar and that is their sole driver, they will not make it through the interview process as prospective employers will see right through this motive.”

Moreover, when looking at strategic thinking, it is essential to view a CMO’s function as that of an advisor who provides strategies and solutions to decision makers. CMO Dr. Timothy Jahn, M.D. states, “the CMO role is not a given set of skills for the position; that skill set is shaped by the hospital’s or local system’s particular situation. The regulatory function in the hospital rests with the medical staff, executive committee, and the hospital board, neither of which are under the CMO. You are an adviser, but they make the decisions.”

The Ability to Educate

A vital role of a CMO is serving as an educator for their staff, organization and stakeholders. Not only must a CMO educate members of their organization on medical issues, but also business and management matters. It is in the role of an educator that a CMO shapes their organization both in the present and for the future.

Leading the Way

The CMO is a vital leader in a healthcare organization. For a CMO to be most effective, they must have a diverse medical background along with strong soft skills such as leadership and strategic thinking, and must embrace their role as an educator.

If you are a CMO looking to explore new opportunities, it is best to consult a professional healthcare recruiter. At UHC Solutions, we are leading recruiters of executive healthcare professionals. We work with our candidates to identify the right opportunities to move their careers forward. Contact our healthcare recruitment specialists today to learn more!


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