Anticipating Healthcare Executive Transitions

By Andrew Chastain

[The following is the introduction to Witt/Kieffer’s new best practices resource, “Executive Succession and Transition in Healthcare.”]

executive-succession_and_transition_in_healthcare_cover-2There’s a saying that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” These are certainly interesting times in healthcare. The changes happening today toward new models of care will impact the way that healthcare organizations define themselves and carry out their missions for decades to come.

Change is good but an inevitable by-product is executive upheaval and transition. In healthcare today there is significant turnover at the top; meanwhile, organizations are often unprepared to take decisive steps in promoting or choosing new leaders. In the throes of reform or just keeping up, they often push planning for executive succession to the back burner.

What many organizations fail to realize is the role of succession planning as a critical part of comprehensive strategic planning, of smooth transitioning as years pass. Succession planning isn’t something that happens every so often, and it’s not just about choosing the next CEO (or CFO, or CMO, etc.). Rather, it is an ongoing, big-picture activity.

There’s an art to it. Increasingly, there’s also more science involved, too, as boards and executives realize the value in practices such as leadership talent assessment, onboarding, and succession management.

This guide aims to educate and support healthcare leaders in their pursuit of less tumultuous turnover and greater anticipation of future leadership needs. Art or science, successful executive transitioning is essential to the stability and long-term viability of healthcare organizations.

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