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40% of Leaders Fail: A Better Plan for Healthcare

December 17, 2015

78463874Across industries, nearly 40% of senior leaders fail. In healthcare, C-suite turnover is topping 20% these days. Hospitals and systems are facing unprecedented pressures and expect more from senior leaders but most still take a rather haphazard approach to leader selection and development.

Many senior leaders fail because of behavioral deficiencies that could have been identified in the selection process, and improved with a focused developmental plan. There is a desperate need for more diligent selection, and leadership development programs that are not didactic and generic, but focused and effective.

It’s not as though organizations don’t appreciate the problem. Executives from top companies routinely rank leadership development as a top priority – some as their number one concern. U.S. companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development.

A 2009 Harvard Business Review article, examined the characteristics that correlate with failure. The authors analyzed 360-degree feedback data on thousands of leaders and looked at the characteristics of those who were terminated or fell into the 10% labeled “least effective.” Among the most common traits of failed leaders are clear behavioral deficiencies like a lack interpersonal and collaboration skills, poor judgment and a failure to develop others. Read the article by clicking here.

More importantly, these leaders were often completely unaware of their behavioral weaknesses. These traits lend themselves to measurement via sound interviewing techniques and leadership style behavioral assessments. In other words, there are ways to identify these potential derailers during the selection process, and to address them through structured development – if they are first revealed and understood.

But this can be complicated. The National Center for Healthcare Leadership lists 26 important behavioral competencies, but which 5-6 are most important to your organization, or for a particular position, today? Identifying some of the deepest, “below the surface” thoughts feelings, assumptions and beliefs is a precondition of behavioral change – And how can individuals identify which they need to develop? Traditional leadership training approaches fail in this regard.

Our approach to senior leader selection:

  1. Identify, with great specificity, the competencies that are important to you
  2. Our Select Assessment® for Executives, is a proven, efficient, and effective way to understand the underlying behavioral strengths and weaknesses of a candidate.
  3. Finally, armed with the assessment results, the senior team can focus their behavioral-based interview on exploring those competencies, strengths or weaknesses that are most important, thereby creating a wealth of objective data on which to compare candidates and make an informed decision.

The same data that can inform the selection decision can form the foundation of an individual or group developmental plan, that is focused and effective. Select Assessment® for Executives, in addition to the selection report, can generate a deep and valuable developmental report. As opposed to generic, didactic training on a pre-determined list of topics, an individual who has struggled to effectively delegate, can understand the underlying reasons and seek to change his or her behavior.

A well-rounded and effective leadership development program should include:

  1. A program participant selection process;
  2. Traditional learning combined with projects requiring complex collaboration across departments – targeting real-world challenges facing the organization;
  3. Individual development tasks targeting identified behavioral challenges; and
  4. Program effectiveness evaluation including participant career progress and, where possible, department or business unit performance metrics.

To learn more, see our free whitepaper:

leadership healthcare

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.