Just how important is teamwork in health care? And if physicians are increasingly expected to shift from command-and-control leader to clinical team member, should hospital CEOs be taking the same approach upstairs?

I've been thinking about this since I interviewed AHA president Rich Umbdenstock a few months ago. Physicians, Umbdenstock told me, have been moving from a role "as captain of the ship to leader of the team. It's a very different orientation, from a hierarchical relationship to more of a leader, motivator and coordinator."

This month's cover story explores that issue in depth, looking at how physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and others are building collaborative teams to better serve patients. But as clinicians begin to embrace these new relationships, what about their counterparts in the C-suite?

While researching an article on solutions to CEO burnout and turnover — which will appear in the April issue of H&HN, I talked to a host of executive consultants and hospital CEOs, and I got the sense that senior hospital leaders are starting to move in the same direction as their counterparts on the front lines.

Robert Wise, CEO of Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J., told me that adapting to population health will force CEOs and other senior leaders to embrace process improvement and interdisciplinary team theory to a greater degree than before. And Thomas Dolan, CEO of the American College of Healthcare Executives, believes today's hospital CEOs need strong interpersonal skills like never before.

Tim Morgan, chief operating officer at the health care consulting firm B.E. Smith, said it best, noting that CEOs of the future won't be able to managing in an era of greater complexity without a strong leadership team that can effectively complement the top position.

For instance, Morgan said, "a traditional CFO is not going to be effective in the new era of health care reform, with pay for performance, strategic alliances and ACOs," Morgan says. "A new CFO has got to have a skill set with a strategic view and an understanding of clinical quality." It goes without saying that if CFOs are expected to take on more strategic responsibilities, CEOs will need to find a way to delegate those skills and incorporate more feedback than they may be used to.

These issues are also examined in this month's Focus on the C-Suite piece in our print edition, which explores how chief medical officers are increasingly expected to be liaisons between executive and clinical staff, while handling both new strategic management responsibilities as well as communications with the broader staff.

But I'd like to hear from you, as well. Are hospital CEOs and other senior executives embracing health care's new emphasis on teamwork? Email your thoughts to hbush@healthforum.com.