Who Will Fill Your Shoes? Best Practices for Hiring a Successor

Any conscientious executive knows the value in naming and developing a successor. Given enough time and mentoring, your understudy can learn the ropes, gain critical experience and, when the time is right, take over your responsibilities in what is hopefully a seamless transition. Such leadership succession planning is good for the organization, not to mention the fact that it reflects well upon your own legacy.

David Boggs, practice leader of

Success Story: In Arizona, Revamping a Hospital Board in 5 Months

In 2010, three large healthcare organizations merged to become the University of Arizona Health Network. Among the immense governance challenges created was that the UAHN board of directors became an “amalgamation” of 27 members from the three organizations—dysfunctional from the start, according the Steve Lynn, the board’s current chairman.

One factor playing into this was that the way in which the organizations were brought together was not accepted by all board members, many of whom took their gripes to parties…



Where Will Your CEO Be in Three Years?

Last month, Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson announced that he would be retiring—effective December 2013. The fact that he has announced his retirement more than a year in advance of the actual date of departure is significant. How many healthcare organizations have the luxury of 14 months to find and transition in a new CEO? For all major strategic planning—a category CEO succession planning certainly falls under—Halvorson advises fellow CEOs to look…



For Hospital Board Succession Planning, Creativity Counts

Even the best hospital and health system boards are challenged to find new members. While traditional skills such as accounting and finance are still highly valued, boards increasingly need individuals who understand, for example, population health, evidence-based medicine, and even information technology and social media.

“Board members with proven clinical experience in quality measurement and performance improvement are especially prized,” Jim Gauss writes on Boardmember.com. “As the healthcare landscape and its financial incentives are transformed,…



Building Diversity in Healthcare Administration: Women’s Perspectives from the C-Suite

Guest post by Wendy L. Brower McLeod

Like the patients they serve, a hospital’s executive staff should come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures: women, men, old, young. Multiple countries of origin. Building diversity in healthcare organizations is critical to ensure that the needs of all patients are being met, and that these organizations are employing the best within their communities.

Sharon O’Keefe, President of the University of Chicago Medical…



CEO Succession Planning: Helping Boards Prepare for a Smooth Transition

Guest Post by Jena E. Abernathy and Andrew P. Chastain

It is the dread of every hospital board of directors across the country: an esteemed, longtime CEO announces the intention to resign. A replacement must be found, and the transition—as perceived by patients and the community—must be seamless. With foresight, however, executive transitions need not shock the system, and effective CEO succession planning can give your hospital or healthcare system an opportunity to explore alternative philosophies, practices, and even new…



Managing Diversity: 5 Ways Your Board Can Get Results

Guest post by Jim Gauss and Howard Jessamy

Managing Diversity: 5 Ways Your Board Can Get Results

Fourth in a series of findings from Witt/Kieffer’s 2011 national survey report Building the Business case. Healthcare Diversity Leadership.

Over the past few months in this series on advancing leadership diversity, I’ve shared some key findings from our 2011 national survey report, noted specific barriers  to improving and managing diversity in a meaningful way, explained why mentoring is the number one best practice to use, and…



New Research: The Importance of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare Leadership

Guest post by Jim Gauss and Howard Jessamy

New Research: The Importance of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare Leadership

…first in a series of findings from Witt/Kieffer’s 2011 national survey report Building the Business case. Healthcare Diversity Leadership.

There’s no question about it. Whatever happens in Washington, health reform this year will require successful organizations to provide more value-based care to patients and deliver higher quality clinical outcomes. The stakes are high for serving patients well. 

But consider this: a 2011 report…



Shhhh…Presidential Search in Progress

Guest post by Dennis Barden

While it is still common for educational institutions in the final stages of a leadership search to bring candidates to campus for open visits—public institutions are often required by law to do so—some candidates are pushing back. The issue of transparent governance versus the candidate’s right to privacy is an old one but the current climate is shifting toward a more confidential process.

The reason for this is paralleled by a shift in the nature of…



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…