“Leadership selection has a greater impact on an organization than any other single activity,” wrote ethicist and theologian John “Jack” Glaser in 1989. Dr. Glaser, who passed away in 2012, was an icon in Catholic healthcare circles and in the industry in general, and his words still ring true today. As an executive search consultant (who regularly serves major faith-based healthcare systems), I may be a little biased but it is hard to argue against his point. Organizations that hire great executives tend to succeed over the short and long term.
There are some who question whether Catholic and other faith-based healthcare organizations can change as dramatically as today’s industry requires. Can they? I believe so, which is a point that I make in a recent article in Executive Insight magazine. The article coincided with the centennial of the Catholic Health Assembly earlier this summer (highlighted by this talk by President Obama).
Yes, many Catholic organizations are bound by tradition and resistant to change. But I believe that the fundamental way that many Catholic hospitals and health systems have selected leaders in the past – prioritizing what Dr. Glaser termed “core, lived values” – dovetails nicely with the contemporary requirements of leadership selection. Healthcare leadership today is expected to prioritize value over volume, quality over quantity, and health and wellness for diverse populations and entire communities. “Given these defining factors of the new paradigm it is easy to see how Catholic healthcare organizations can adapt and are adapting to healthcare reform,” I write in the article mentioned above. “Much of reform is nothing new for Catholic leaders, who have emphasized quality of care, compassion and service of needy populations throughout their history.”
Those organizations who select the right leaders will get the spoils in today’s marketplace, but the “right leaders” must be aligned with the missions of their organizations and communities, and must exhibit the core, lived values that Dr. Glaser so frequently spoke about and that our industry still embraces today.
Here again is the link to the Executive Insight article. Also please enjoy a previous blog post with thoughts about leadership within Catholic healthcare organizations and what executives who work for them should know.