This will stun my boss, but I have a lot of "opportunities" when it comes to developing my leadership skills. Shocking, I know, because none of that came up during my mid-year performance review.
Apparently, I'm good a good team player and present myself in a professional manner, even exhibiting an "executive presence" at times. But I have a "skill building opportunity" when it comes to "working across organizational boundaries," as well as some room for development in the strategic planning area.
How do I know all of this? The Internet, of course. The other day I completed an 18-question survey for "aspiring executives" on a new website: The Unwritten Rules Toolkit. The site, which also has a questionnaire executives can use to assess their organizations, was developed by consultant/author John Beeson and GE Healthcare Performance Solutions. Beeson, author of the book The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level, has studied how general industry develops executive talent. This is his first real foray into health care.
Apparently, my weakness in working across the organization is not unique. "Succession planners miss a fundamental truth," Beeson told me during a recent interview. "Stars tend to be stars for the bosses they are currently working with. Companies need to be more aggressive in putting in processes that spot stars and move them across boundaries." In other words, pull people out of their silos and get them thinking horizontally.
Beeson says it is important to start now. "Twenty years ago, companies had the luxury of letting the cream rise to the top and that is how they approached succession planning." With the aging workforce, that clearly isn't an option anymore. Plus, as Justin Holland, managing principal, strategy and leadership at GE Healthcare Performance Solutions, points out, it can take up to 10 years to groom a rising star for the leadership ranks.
The other imperative in health care is to bring leaders and future leaders back to the mission. "We need to reconnect with the passion people have for the work that they do," says John Combes, M.D., president of the AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance. Too often, he says, leaders focus on and hide behind the so-called hard stuff — the business objectives — and mission gets pushed aside because it is the soft stuff. "We need to capture people's imagination so they can remember why they got into health care."
Combes doesn't downplay or undervalue the business skills needed to direct a hospital in today's challenging economic times. But, with all of the focus on value, quality, integration, accountable care — whatever you want to call it — mission takes on greater prominence. Boards, Combes says, are captains of this effort since they select the CEO and, through the credentialing process, the physicians. He says boards need to recruit leaders who embrace the concept of collaboration and teamwork and hold people accountable to that. The goal should be to create an excellent patient experience.
This isn't just pie in the sky talk either. Last month, we profiled the efforts of some hospitals that are leading the charge in creating team-based care and reconnecting to their mission. Are you?