7 Things CEOs Can Do Today to Advance Their Careers

The healthcare industry is undergoing rapid change, including technological advances and new entrants into the market. Hospital and health system CEOs all want to succeed in the new environment, and below are seven things CEOs can do for their careers today to help ensure future success.

1. Get involved. To stay up-to-date on changes and trends in their industry and remain a viable asset to their organizations, healthcare CEOs need to get involved in advocacy and policy development that affects them, says Andrew Chastain, managing partner of Witt/Kieffer's southern region. Getting involved is as easy as joining a local or national healthcare association. Doing so allows CEOs "to stay current on activities that have  significant impact on their organizations, and provides them exposure and networking," he adds.

Mr. Chastain also recommends CEOs join a small affinity group to share ideas and propose new strategies in a safe environment. Such groups allow CEOs to communicate with others in their position and to learn from others' mistakes. These groups also allow CEOs to receive guidance on their own missteps. "It's lonely at the top for CEOs, and they need a sound board," says Mr. Chastain.

2. Embrace change. Being open to new ideas and accepting changes in the healthcare industry will have a positive impact on CEOs' careers. CEOs who "put aside their own personal interests and take the long-term strategic view will be successful," says Bob Valletta, PwC partner and U.S. health services leader.

Part of embracing change requires CEOs to keep an open mind and not discount any potential partners. To be successful, CEOs need to consider collaborations with a whole host of companies, including new entrants from outside the industry, adds Mr. Valetta. This is going to be important moving forward, as evidenced by almost half of 2013's Fortune 50 companies being new entrants to the healthcare industry.

3. Be visible. Employee engagement is vital to an organization's success, and "nothing beats genuine visibility," as a method for improving employee engagement, says Mr. Chastain. CEOs need to be present to interact with employees to get their feedback as well as their criticism. This helps CEOs see what is working at their organizations as well as identify areas that need improvement.

Being physically present is easier for CEOs at smaller healthcare organizations, but by using social media and electronic communication, CEOs of larger organizations can remain visible to staff even when they are not physically present, says Mr. Chastain.

4. Delegate. Delegating tasks will immediately make CEOs lives easier and help their careers in the long term, but it is one of the hardest things for most CEOs to do, says Mr. Chastain. Delegation is vital to a CEO's professional success and the success of their organization because if a CEO is at the center of everything, the organization will eventually break down. CEOs need the support of a team to ensure success.

To become more comfortable with delegation, CEOs must learn to trust their team and to empower employees by training and mentoring them, adds Mr. Chastain. 

5. Have free time. It is extremely important for healthcare CEOs to have free time to reflect and think as well as to celebrate organization successes, says Mr. Chastain. Many CEOs "operate in a state of manic productivity, and they need to take a step back to analyze experiences thoroughly to come up with solutions for their organizations," he adds. Sometimes it is necessary to take time to look at the big picture to fully understand an organization's challenges. Since CEOs have so much to do every day, it is important they schedule time to reflect, says Mr. Chastain.

6. Read. Gaining new knowledge can have a positive impact on CEOs' careers. CEOs often stop actively learning when they reach the top, and they need to take the time to continue learning and reading, says Mr. Chastain. To be successful, CEOs need to be innovative. They also need to be continually coming up with new ideas on how to carry on their organizations' success and address their organizations' challenges. Reading and gathering knowledge from outside of an organized and structural setting can pay off for CEOs.

7. Make tough financial decisions. In order to have successful careers, CEOs need to understand the decisions they make today can have a huge impact on their organizations in the future, and they can never lose sight of the need to focus on the bottom line, says Mr. Valetta. It is important for CEOs to be focused on short-term success as well as long-term organization goals. "CEOs need to be willing to step on political landmines, such as creating shared services, to rein in costs if they ensure long-term success of their institution," says Mr. Valetta.

 More Articles on CEOs:  

What Makes a Great CEO? 5 Thoughts From Dallas Medical Center CEO Raji Kumar
10 Essential Reads for CEOs
Call to Action: Why CEO Recruitment Must Change

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