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Exchanging Insights on Leadership

Edward Prewitt, for HealthLeaders Media, November 13, 2012
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This article appears in the November 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

I'm proud to work with the extremely capable HealthLeaders Media editorial team, which puts out a remarkable range of publications and products in different formats: besides this magazine, our daily website, www.HealthLeadersMedia.com; a series of weekly e-newsletters; our monthly series of research-driven Intelligence Reports; multimedia publications such as Breakthroughs reports and Rounds live events; and books and webcasts, to name only part of our portfolio.

One of our newest initiatives is the Exchange series for C-level executives. I've just returned from the inaugural CEO Exchange in Torrey Pines, Calif., where 30 hospital and health system CEOs gathered for two and a half days to share insights with HealthLeaders editors and one another.

Among the many great discussions, one that stood out for me was a roundtable panel on leadership development featuring five CEOs. I know the appetite that executives in all industries have for insights and workable ideas.

Leadership, for some, is a topic that doesn't seem urgent until a crisis hits. Then all eyes, from the frontline workers to the board, are fixed on leaders and their leadership qualities.

Some hospitals and health systems have recognized the importance of developing leaders from within. Barry Arbuckle, PhD, CEO of MemorialCare Health System, the $2 billion integrated delivery system in Southern California, spoke highly of graduates of MemorialCare's Leadership Academy, which since 1997 has enrolled 20 business-side executives and physician leaders each year.

Similarly, Christopher Howard, president and CEO of SSM Health Care–St. Louis, talked about how he is able to draw on SSM's Emerging Leaders program for high-potential leaders.

But the leadership role in healthcare is getting harder. As the cover story in this issue relates, skill sets are shifting—for CEOs and all levels of leadership. The changing dynamics of the industry make it hard to come up with a reliable playbook. New ideas are needed, such as the approach to physician alignment adopted by CEO Exchange attendee Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO and chairman of the boards at Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wis. Thompson works to get business and physician leaders on the same page by conducting joint performance reviews, with each side responsible for the other.

Yet the challenges of leadership always seem to come down to one fundamental: communication. I hear over and over from healthcare CEOs and other leaders that "it's a relationship business." That is only fitting for a business based on caring for others.


This article appears in the November 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.


Edward Prewitt is the Editorial Director of HealthLeaders Media.
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