Health Care Executive Search Library

Five Steps Toward Filling a Healthy Leadership Pipeline

As if the challenges of implementing operational strategies to meet the requirements of health care reform are not enough, your organization may soon be challenged with maintaining leadership continuity and competition for executive talent in 2014.

While the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) reported a slight upward trend in CEO turnover in 2012, we believe there is risk of accelerated retirement and turnover throughout the leadership ranks this year and next.

Signs of a perfect storm that may impact your leadership team’s continuity and operational performance through 2014 include:

Age demographics: The average age of an ACHE fellow is 55, indicating that the baby boom will soon become the retirement boom within the healthcare industry.

Record performance on Wall Street: Recovery in portfolio values provides a cushion that will empower executives to take more risks in exploring different paths.

Housing market rebound: Mobility will encourage executives to consider new opportunities requiring relocation.

Desire for a new chapter: War-weary senior executives will redirect their talents and experience from health care delivery to less volatile industry segments.



To weather the storm, you must cultivate and retain a cohesive leadership team with the skills and experience to succeed.

This depends on your ability and willingness to:

Hire well. Look beyond resume experience and focus on the track record for results in management, operations, technology, quality and finance. Importantly, don’t overlook the importance of the right cultural fit for your organization. Set the standard. Adopt a set of criteria or milestones for leadership advancement within your organization.

Provide stepping stone opportunities. Test and prepare middle managers for the next level by assigning them a leadership role in a project or committee. If a postgraduate management degree is required of C-level executives, provide or subsidize the time and financial investment required of your promising leaders to qualify.

Empower the adoption of best practices. No one has the bullet-proof answers about how new care delivery, business partnerships and stakeholder alignment models will change what is required of tomorrow’s leaders. Association resource centers, institutes and work groups can be valuable places to gain perspectives about strategies and initiatives that that are working (or not!) in other organizations.

Mentor formally. Foster leadership development through formalized mentoring. Pair up-and-comers from your clinical and administrative ranks with experienced leaders. Select mentors who model the leadership behaviors and performance that contribute to your organization’s culture and success.

Have the compensation conversation. It is important to provide transparency to both experienced and emerging leaders about how their compensation will be influenced by new reimbursement models that reward value over volume in a post-reform world.

Don’t ignore the warning signs of a perfect storm. These challenges present an opportunity to rebalance the C-suite and build your leadership pipeline by creatively reaching into candidate pools to discover up-and-coming candidates with diverse experience and talents.

Please let us know if we can help you fill your leadership pipeline.