The Board’s Role in CEO Transition—Part 2

Guest post by Karen Otto

My last post focused on the lead-up to a health care CEO transition. Now let’s look at the actual transfer of power.

Any transition plan should approach transferring authority in a way that minimizes organizational disruption and maintains employee, physician, and community good will. Once a new CEO has been chosen, it is important to let that person lead with minimal interference. For example, if the incumbent has a continuing role with the organization, handle all logistical details, such as office space, well in advance of the new leader’s arrival.

A final farewell to the outgoing CEO can celebrate achievements and serve to publicly mark the transition. Celebrating a long-standing leader’s contributions is entirely appropriate, but decisions about the size of the fanfare should be based on the CEO’s reputation within the organization and the broader community, rather than on board members’ personal feelings.

When a hospital or health system transitions from one leader to the next, it’s a great opportunity for organizational reflection and renewal. But that potential will only be realized if the board is prepared with a transition plan that allows for a graceful and honorable exit for the outgoing leader and a clear, positive entry for the new CEO. When the board confidently controls the transition, the person taking the helm will be fully equipped and empowered to move the organization forward.

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