Over the last 50 years, the healthcare industry in the United States has seen a steady increase in job growth. Even during past recessions, healthcare jobs have remained secure and, in many ways, remained insulated from typical business cycles.
By the late spring of 2020, however, the healthcare industry reported more than 1.4 million jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. The combination of Americans avoiding care organizations and the halt of elective surgeries created stresses never seen before within the industry. The job losses impacted every level of healthcare organizations, from CEOs to front line providers, from clinicians to environmental services. As a result of this disruption, recently displaced healthcare executives are now looking for their next opportunity while organizations in need of new leadership are taking a different approach to recruiting and hiring.
Strategic Skills to Find Success
For executive candidates in search of a new role, the market looks very different than it did prior to the healthcare crisis of 2020. While many executive-level positions remain the same in title, they may differ in terms of responsibilities and expectations. One dominant shift in recruiting are the new traits organizations want in their next leader.
Battling the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated that healthcare organizations learn lessons quickly. Those lessons have put a spotlight on the executive leadership skills required to lead these organizations through unpredictable changes.
1. Emotional Intelligence. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are able to understand their own feelings and emotions, which allows them to respond and recognize the emotions of team members. Bringing in an executive with strong emotional intelligence will allow the organization to operate with more thoughtful, deliberate and considerate decision-making practices. Emotionally intelligent executives will demonstrate self-awareness, empathy, relationship management skills and effective self-management.
2. Adaptability. The rapid pace of change throughout the healthcare industry in 2020 has highlighted the need for quick thinking and adaptability. The ability to pivot under shifting circumstances increases the chance for success and allows an organization to maintain a calm, supportive environment during highly stressful periods. Courage and calm in the face of adversity are highly sought-after qualities for organizations that want a leader who can stay the course and continue to accomplish strategic goals during times of upheaval.
3. Technical Acuity. The explosive growth of digital and Telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought technological opportunities to the forefront of healthcare innovation. As of May 2020, Telehealth services in the US were on track to grow seven-fold by the year 2025 and show a growth increase of 64.3% over 2019. Now, forward-thinking organizations are putting strategic plans in place to continue to utilize and grow their digital service offerings. When bringing in new leadership, organizations want executives with technological understanding, strategic planning experience and the ability to lead and develop new services based on digital health services.
4. Regulatory Savvy. Throughout the pandemic, industry regulations have adapted to meet changing circumstances. Looking forward, industry experts expect regulation updates and recommendation adjustments to continue as part of the constant changes within healthcare. The acceptance of a continually evolving environment has established the need for executives with a deep understanding of the industry, as well as the contacts to maintain industry support. Employing executives who are able to manage shifting reimbursement policies, understand the ramifications of changing regulations and lead innovations to advance the standards of care will be key to success going forward.
5. Innovative Communications Skills. The ability to maintain focus on an established goal in the time of crisis is a central quality to good leadership. In order to maintain that focus, leaders must be able to clearly communicate the vision of the organization and motivate team members, no matter what changes in their environment. Leaders with the ability to communicate are able to set expectations, hold productive conversations with team members and maintain the organization’s culture and values, even during times of stress. Throughout the pandemic, this leadership quality has been invaluable and it will continue to be a must-have for organizations looking ahead.
New Opportunities Bring New Questions
While organizations are using new criteria to identify their next leaders, leaders who are looking for a new opportunity are evaluating those positions in new ways. Questions at the forefront for top candidates include:
- Does the organization have a flexible, adaptable strategic plan in place?
- How does the organization plan to innovate and become a market leader in meeting the new needs of the industry?
- What are the community leadership needs in this area and how is the hospital meeting those needs?
- What does the structure of the leadership team look like?
- What education and career development programs does the organization have?
Paving a Path Through a Changed Healthcare Market
The ‘new normal’ for the healthcare industry, as with the rest of the country, is still evolving. As this shift continues, it will be vital for individual executives and for organizations to remain informed regarding emerging trends, future challenges and new opportunities. In order to stay informed, it is important to have the right network and support system in place. To learn more about the resources available, connect with the experts at Cejka Search here.