By Mark Madden
For most healthcare executives, the new year is ushered in with well thought-out strategic direction, care delivery objectives and financial planning. However, it may also be the perfect time to take stock of one’s own career aspirations and set goals that will get you closer to achieving that next step in your career.
Leadership Competencies Search Committees Are Looking For
Gleaned from my executive search experience with healthcare committees and boards of directors nationwide, following are the core competencies most healthcare organizations seek when filling a C-level position.
1) Champion of Change
Despite new tools and capabilities, change is difficult to operationalize across a health organization. Behavioral patterns persist sometimes because people are protective of their jobs, are hesitant to share control, or are simply used to doing things the way they always have.
Yet senior executives and healthcare boards are keenly aware of the need to change if their organizations are to thrive. Search committees look for leaders with demonstrated ability to adapt to change and lead innovation. This may include initiatives, such as:
Creating greater access to care
Leveraging technology for greater efficiency
Spearheading a united approach to providing care and improving population health
Developing effective strategies for the transition from volume-based to value-based reimbursements.
Being able to point to a time in your career where you were instrumental in successfully managing change and positively impacting an outcome is critical for today’s leadership positions.
2) Voice of the Industry
Today’s legislators on both sides of the aisle have difficulty meeting in the middle when it comes to healthcare. Health systems, especially large ones, are recognizing the need for a new generation of regulatory thought that must be driven by physicians and administrators. Therefore, healthcare leaders who have taken an active role in government or private-sector forums aimed at shaping the future of healthcare are viewed as an asset.
3) Collaboration at Work
Collaboration has long been an imperative for improved health care delivery, whether it was the managed care philosophy of the 80s, the integrated care services of the 90s, or the population health models of today. The difference now is that the urgent need to lower costs while maintaining quality is necessitating collaboration of a much greater magnitude -- and outside of the organization, in addition to within it.
Candidates for senior-level positions who can share previous examples of leading successful collaborations tend to fare well. For instance, partnering with providers in your area to share the costs of expensive equipment purchases or electronic health records (EHR) implementations. Or, working with community health services, such as skilled nursing homes, assisted living and mental health services, to coordinate improved care across providers.
These are the types of collaborative initiatives that showcase a leader’s ability to identify common goals, build rapport and work effectively with others to a successful end.
4) Directive and Agile
The healthcare marketplace has two growing and challenging paradigms that leaders must be able to work within. They are the unprecedented amount of available data and the speed with which strategic direction must be set, and its success measured.
Today’s leaders must be able to:
Understand the broad implications of data analytics
Have the courage to use them to take calculated business risks
Stay close enough to the frontline to quickly determine whether initiatives are working, or not
Be agile in their ability to adjust, pull back or redirect as needed
Strategic directives -- in the past conceived, implemented and evaluated over the course of five years or more -- today have half that time to prove successful or warrant reevaluation. Many competing priorities for investment dollars and the speed of industry change are factors. This fast-paced, high-pressure environment, requires leaders who are able to act as observant, decisive and agile – all at the same time.
For more advice from Mark Madden, a thought leader in the area of healthcare executive search, mentoring and success planning, follow him on LinkedIn.