Stephen C. Hanson, FACHE, Partner, CEO Advisory Network
The Promise of Interim Leadership
Turnover, particularly at the CEO and COO levels, has the potential to slow progress in health systems and hospitals. Not only can it impact progress of your strategic plan, but it affects morale, donor relationships and can cost your organization a substantial amount of money just to replace a CEO.
These are turbulent times for independent hospitals and large physician groups, and even those organizations operating within large health systems. Thus, there is a tendency to promote from within, at least on an interim basis. There’s nothing wrong with that, if you have the right interim leader. However…
…often what’s needed is a fresh perspective, a new energy, and a leader who stands ready to carry out the decisions needed to move the mission forward.
At CEO Advisory Network, we believe this is a great opportunity for an interim leader from outside the organization. It may be a complete “outsider” or someone from another part of a large health system. This allows a pair of fresh eyes to review what is happening and give his/her “report up,” whether to the governing body or a senior corporate executive. It also provides a perspective, particularly from an outsider, from someone who has seen many different issues and opportunities in multiple settings. This is also an excellent opportunity to bring in someone who has led a health system in his/her career, has those unique experiences of challenges that range simple to complex and now is ready to help a smaller system, a hospital or a physician practice.
We would also suggest that even if there is a succession plan including one or more internal candidates eventually, to bring in an external interim leader with no intent to make him/her the permanent. This can assure total objectivity and honesty. It’s a great opportunity to set your next CEO or COO up for success — interim leaders can make the difficult, but necessary changes that are hindering your organization while clearing the path for new permanent leadership to take over and take off!
Over the next few days we’ll explore the role of the interim CEO and COO.