Conflict, Feedback, and Negotiation for Leaders in Academic Health Centers

  • Online
  • March 14, 2021
  • $1,850

Online Program Overview

The stakes are high in health care – the ability to negotiate and manage conflict is crucial for effective physician leadership. As academic health centers experience unprecedented disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing constant change in the health care landscape, the need for strong leadership skills has never been more critical.

Academic health centers are uniquely complex and unwieldy, which makes decision-making in these environments particularly challenging. Academic health centers’ mission of providing medical education, research, and care often result in differing incentives and perspectives across the organization. It can be difficult to gain the consensus to make decisions – and to get the buy-in for lasting outcomes. Managing in such a dynamic, turbulent environment demands a diversified set of high-level skills from physician leaders that spans the ability to effectively and strategically negotiate and manage conflict.

This online program is designed to build on the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health approach to management and decision-making models. It will provide cutting-edge learning and training, empowering you to develop the skills and confidence to tackle the most challenging situations you face as a leader. Harvard faculty will enhance your ability to think and act strategically, adopt innovative management approaches, and face the most complex situations and conversations with greater confidence.

In this online program, you will increase your confidence in the critical management areas of:

  • Navigating conflict
  • Providing feedback
  • Skillfully approaching negotiations

Harvard faculty will use a combination of learning approaches such as teaching mini case studies, interactive classroom discussions, and helping you apply newly learned skills to real work situations.

By the end of the program, you will have built the confidence and developed the skills necessary to be more effective at managing conflict, having difficult conversations, and negotiating with others.

A Strong Foundation in Negotiation and Conflict Management

Negotiation is a means to get what you need from others, yet what everyone needs is important. The substantive issues being negotiated in health care often require a difficult decision between two equally good or bad alternatives – with the care of a patient in the mix. The need to effectively and quickly negotiate through informal, unarticulated channels makes strong relationships critical.

Nevertheless, negotiations often feel like a trade-off between the substance of the agreement and the relationship with the other party and hierarchy creates challenging power dynamics that hinder fair negotiation. This makes having strong negotiation skills one of the most powerful assets you can have in being an effective physician leader.

With leadership also comes conflict management. Leaders spend considerable time managing interpersonal conflict. Oftentimes, the most difficult issues are dealing with individuals who have a pattern of unprofessional behavior. While feedback interventions are important, if the individual knows that their behaviors will continue to be tolerated by the organization, then they will have little motivation to change.

Your organization – led by leaders like you – has a responsibility to hold everyone accountable for their behaviors. By promoting organizational accountability, leaders support a culture of trust and psychological safety, which ultimately enhances the quality of care given to patients.

One way to effectively manage conflict and ultimately build strong relationships as a physician leader is through frame-based feedback, which is founded on the concept that people’s actions are driven by their “frames,” or their point of view regarding the situation at hand. Without discussing a feedback receiver’s frames, changes to his or her learning and behavior is unlikely.

Learning Objectives

Within a learning environment that will facilitate career growth, this program will develop your expertise in the following critical areas:

Conflict Management:

  • Develop strategies for overcoming the barriers and challenges to conflict management
  • Apply the skills of using frame-based feedback to conflict management and relationship building
  • Identify the key components of organizational accountability for supporting a culture of trust and psychological safety


  • Explore the dynamics of influence in the context of health care leadership
  • Develop strategies for overcoming the most difficult challenges of negotiation
  • Apply the skill of interest-based negotiations to real situations
  • Develop effective methods for driving decisions

Credits and Logistics

Continuing Education Credit

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will grant Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for this program. Specific credit counts will be published when available; please check back for updated information.

All credits subject to final agenda.

All participants will receive a Certificate of Participation upon completion of the program.


Current faculty, subject to change.

Mary C. Finlay, MBA

Program Director

Division of Policy Translation and Leadership Development
Department of Health Policy and Management
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Jo Shapiro, MD, FACS


Associate Professor of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery
Harvard Medical School
Senior Educator, Center for Medical Simulation
Center for Professionalism and Peer Support
Department of Anesthesia, Pain and Critical Care
Massachusetts General Hopsital

Theodore J. Witherell, MA


Senior Director of Talent Management & Organization Development
Partners HealthCare System, Inc.
Adjunct Faculty
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


This agenda is subject to change.

Monday, March 1, 2021
4:00–5:00 pm Finlay Program Introduction
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
8:00–10:00 am Shapiro Managing Difficult Conversations Part 1
10:00–10:30 am Break
10:30 am–12:30 pm Shapiro Managing Difficult Conversations Part 2
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
8:00–10:00 am Shapiro Managing Difficult Conversations Part 3
10:00–10:30 am Break
10:30 am–12:30 pm Witherell The Challenges of Influence in Healthcare
Thursday, March 4, 2021
8:00–10:00 am Witherell Negotiating for Outcomes Without Damaging Relationships
10:00–10:30 am Break
10:30 am–12:30 pm Witherell Reaching a Decision
12:30–12:45 pm Finlay Program Conclusion

Who Should Apply

This program is specifically designed for physician leaders holding management-level positions in academic health centers. Physicians with the following titles are strongly encouraged to apply:

  • Assistant VP
  • Chair
  • Chief Medical Officer
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Director
  • Division Chief
  • Executive Director
  • Senior VP
  • Service Line Leader
  • VP

Current or recent past experience would include:

  • Managing a substantial budget and/or profit and loss (P&L) responsibility
  • Managing other physicians, other patient care service managers/leaders, and administrative staff
  • Leading/managing a substantial program such as Quality & Safety, Clinical Service Line, The Patient Experience

Individuals interested in this program may also benefit from our online program Health Care Financial Management for Leaders in Academic Health Centers.