Written by Bruce Henry, Healthcare Executive Search Practice Leader
Hospital CEOs are the heartbeat of their organizations. They are responsible for leading and managing an entire team as well as an organization’s finances and operations.
As a result, hospital CEOs must possess a diverse set of skills to be successful in their roles. Here are eight key attributes you should look for next time you engage in hospital CEO recruitment.
A good CEO has a deep understanding of how the healthcare system works and what challenges it faces. They also understand the role of hospitals in the larger health ecosystem, including their place within the payer-provider relationship and the role they play in patient care.
An effective healthcare executive knows how a hospital fits into the larger healthcare system. This means knowing how reimbursement models work and how other hospitals operate. Strong comprehension of these issues will help your new leader be more effective in managing costs and dealing with regulatory compliance issues.
Hospital CEOs are tasked with setting the vision for their organization and creating a plan to achieve it. This requires the ability to see beyond the present, identify opportunities for growth and improvement, and understand how each step in the process will impact overall performance.
In addition, CEOs must be able to communicate this vision clearly so everyone in the organization understands what is expected of them.
Ask yourself the following questions about a candidate to get an understanding of their ability to think and act as a strategic leader:
Your CEO needs to be able to think within reason and look at the big picture. They should be able to guide the organization toward its goals, while also keeping in mind how this will affect other departments and services.
Hospital executives are under a lot of pressure. Their decisions can affect the lives of both your team members and many patients, and they often have to make them within a short time frame. A successful hospital leader must be able to make tough decisions quickly and efficiently.
You should look for someone who has demonstrated these skills in the past by making good choices under pressure — someone with a good track record of staying calm and choosing the right path during turbulent times so they will have what it takes to lead your organization.
Healthcare CEOs are constantly confronted with challenges and obstacles, so being able to remain calm under pressure is critical. They need to think on their feet, make decisions quickly, and adapt to changing circumstances without losing sight of long-term goals.
Hospitals are complex organizations with many moving parts. CEOs must adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining a focus on strategic priorities. They need to be resilient when faced with challenges because they will inevitably encounter them.
The best CEOs can stay focused on their long-term vision while adapting their approach based on new information and changing circumstances.
A hospital CEO must be passionate about patient care. Running a large healthcare organization can be very stressful, but if you hire someone who loves what they do, they will be able to manage the demands of the role better than someone who doesn’t enjoy their job.
The best leaders in healthcare understand that their patients are at the heart of what they do every day, and this passion comes through in every aspect of their work.
The CEO is the face of your organization, so they need to communicate effectively with everyone from the board of directors to your providers and staff. They should demonstrate their ability to clearly explain their vision and goals as well as motivate others to achieve those goals.
They’ll need to do all of this while being accessible, friendly, and approachable. When a leader listens and responds appropriately, the result is an increase in trust and respect within their organization.
One of the most important skills for hospital CEOs is the ability to delegate tasks effectively.
Hospital CEOs have to deal with a lot of different responsibilities at once, which means they can’t do everything themselves. They have to trust that other people on their team can handle certain tasks without needing their input or supervision every step of the way.
Finally, good CEOs must be able to work with people from all different backgrounds and with all types of personalities. They need to listen without judgment but also let people know where they stand on an issue or idea while maintaining professional composure.
The best CEOs understand how to collaborate with others and build consensus. They’re not afraid of conflict — instead, they are comfortable confronting it and they know how to resolve it in a fair and effective way.
As hospital executives are tasked with improving the quality of care, it’s important to consider your leadership and managerial capabilities when recruiting a hospital CEO.
Though no two people are alike, there are some common characteristics that every effective hospital CEO must possess.
While some people may be more naturally inclined to the position, the skills required to excel in this role are not always innate. They can be learned through industry experience, education, and most importantly, mentorship.
A proven track record of leadership doesn’t guarantee success as a hospital CEO, but it’s a great indicator. If a candidate has accomplished something significant and can share lessons learned from their experiences, this is a positive sign about their chances of future success.
Ideally, you want to hire someone who has already improved an operation from the inside by tackling challenges successfully, reshaping established cultures, and implementing best practices in order to create positive results.
Our hands-on healthcare executive recruiters have been recognized as the some of the best hospital CEO search experts, specialty pharmacy, dental, PBM, and behavioral health recruiters for years. Backed by deep experience in the private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit sectors, Cowen Partners is proud to be a leader among the nation’s best healthcare executive search firms.
Our clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
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