Published by Bader & Associates Governance Consultants, Potomac, MD
CEO selection: getting it right
By Sharon O’Malley By the time board Chairman Freddie Burton convened a 12-member search committee to recruit a new chief executive officer for St. John Hospital and Medical Center two years ago, the facility had been through six CEOs in as many years. This time, he vowed, the Detroit hospital’s trustees would take their time deciding on a new CEO and would make that decision using a process agreed to up front by the facility’s 24-member board of trustees, its medical staff and its parent system, St. John Health.
• Developing a ...view middle of the document...
C. Taylor spent his career as a health feedback from every member—including five trustees, six insurance executive and dealt with search firms both as an employer doctors and the CEO of the health system—on every issue; and as a job candidate. “There’s a whole industry out there that considered every motion from any committee member; and does that, people who are trained to do that. The reason not to do updated doctors and other staff after every meeting. it is because you don’t know how to do it.” “This tedious process was very, very important,” notes Burton, who says the new CEO is “working out wonderfully.” He adds: “The process sometimes is almost as important as the outcome.” The process for successfully selecting the best CEO for the job varies from hospital to hospital, but generally involves several important elements: Search consultants obviously agree. “Most board members go through a CEO search once in their careers, if ever,” notes Michael F. Doody, senior vice president for Witt/Kieffer in Oak Brook, Ill. “I’ve been in the search business for 15 years, so I’ve done 40 to 50 executive searches.” The search firm, Doody adds, “is going to help you with a decision which is probably the most important decision you will ever make.”
• Forming a search committee that includes trustees, physicians and potentially other stakeholders.
See CEO selection, page 2
CEO selection from page 1 Plan before recruiting
The CEO profile is the cornerstone of the search process. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you may not get there,” notes search consultant J. Larry Tyler of Atlantabased Tyler & Company. “If you don’t have specifications, a standard, a behavioral ideal in mind for the candidate, then you can get lost.” Indeed, advises consultant Martha Hauser, senior vice president and regional director for Witt/Kieffer in Atlanta, the work the trustees do before they interview their first candidate could determine whether that candidate is a good fit for the hospital—and whether the hospital will be able to convince the candidate to come aboard. “A pitfall is when you start moving toward trying to identify a candidate before doing the really hard work of saying what the needs are,” notes Jane Groves, managing senior vice president of MSA Executive Search in Kansas City, Mo. To that end, search committees have much ground to cover before they look at a single resume. Committees should: of them should have an official vote on the candidates, says Groves. “A CEO search is board work,” she notes. Groves recommends that search committees be limited to about seven members, including a mix of trustees and physicians. Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, N.C., is a textbook case that illustrates the value of careful planning for a leadership transition. Before the 186-bed hospital put the word out that it needed to replace its departing CEO three years ago, the board hired a consulting firm—in addition to a search firm—to...