The essential skills for CEOs to thrive today, according to 3 health systems

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In a series of interviews, Becker's Hospital Review asked leaders to share the skills they consider essential for health system CEOs to thrive in today's healthcare landscape.

Here are answers collected in October.

Joanne Conroy, MD. President and CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (Lebanon, N.H.): During my clinical career as an anesthesiologist, monitoring a patient's vital signs was a critical component of my job. Now, as a CEO, I've learned it is important to continually monitor your hospital's or system's vital signs — our people, our patients, our operations. Effective and regular communication, always with transparency, is essential. The pandemic has served to reinforce that we can never compromise on our conviction to always "follow the science" and use evidence-based information for decision-making. And, I can't emphasize enough having not just a willingness to collaborate, but an enthusiasm for collaboration and partnership. Static thinking prevents us from advancing our mission; the development of new ideas and strategies is essential to success, and those ideas come from listening and dialogue with colleagues who have the broadest range of perspectives and experiences.

Terry Shaw. President and CEO of AdventHealth (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): There are three that immediately come to mind.

  • Having strong communication skills. This begins with active listening and a strong desire to use feedback from all stakeholders to continuously improve upon what you are doing.
  • Be ready to manage for change. Ensure you have strong insight into each of your leaders and know who among them is equipped not only to lead in the role they have been assigned but for the opportunities to come. We now train our leaders, so they are better equipped to lead themselves, lead others and lead for results. 
  • Strengthen your skill at managing parallel processes. The pandemic has taught us how to make decisions better and faster with the multiple issues and priorities that are working through the system at different speeds and competing for limited resources. There are new and widespread instabilities impacting the healthcare industry, so gone are the days where we had much more predictable sequential processes for the work.

Shane Strum. President and CEO of Broward Health (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): Today's healthcare CEO must be strategic, adaptive and a strong financial leader. The pandemic has spotlighted weaknesses within the industry, as well as significant opportunities to excel healthcare into a new era of growth and innovation. But to harness those opportunities, a leader must be agile with solutions for the most complicated scenarios.

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