Aiming for the C-Suite: Competencies & Your Career

By The SHSMD Team posted 11-14-2017 10:39 AM

Aiming for the C-Suite: Competencies & Your Career

Moving up to the C-Suite is an admirable goal, but it’s a long-term goal that requires strategic thinking and lots of planning. What kinds of characteristics are needed for those working in the C-Suite? Who gets promoted to those positions and why?

Competency and Leadership
Obviously, you don’t want anyone working at the C-Suite level who isn’t competent in their field, but to find out if you’ve got what it takes, you might need some help.

According to Dr. Andrew Garman, CEO of the National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL), when it comes to leadership we tend not to be good judges of our own skillsets. To have a good understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, we need other people to give us high-quality feedback and tell us about ourselves so we can modify our behavior accordingly.

Interpersonal leadership skills are especially important to develop. C-Suite leaders need to be able to manage their teams, so developing and maintaining good leadership skills is at least as important as developing your competencies.

You can assess your strengths and weaknesses and find guides to further develop your competencies and leadership skills in our Bridging Worlds program.

Leading the Field of Healthcare Education
In addition to leading their own teams, C-Suite leaders need to help advance the quality of healthcare education as a whole, says Anthony C. Stanowski, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). To accomplish that, we must maintain high standards for ourselves, our career growth, and always be committed to self-improvement.

That said, it’s important to remember that career growth is not always linear. Obtaining your long-term goals may require taking the occasional step back or sideways to achieve a clearer path to success.

The final component of preparing yourself to be a leader in the field of healthcare education can be described as two pillars supporting the same bridge: what you know; and what you can do with that knowledge.

Building Relationships
Jeff Kraut, EVP of Strategy and Analytics for Northwell Health, says the key to his success has been “relationship building.”

What this means in today’s society is using data to improve the customer experience. Data is integral to developing strategy, as is teamwork, but it is important not to use data as a weapon against your customers. As privacy continues to be a hot button issue with many consumers, maintaining trust and integrity is key to attracting and retaining customers.

This means that data on customers should be used only to improve the customer experience, never to put ads in front of them. Data should also be kept private and never sold or distributed to other companies.

Joan Kurtenback, VP of Strategic Planning, Marketing and Communications for Rush University Medical Center, said she realized she needed to become a rainmaker if she was going to advance in her career. In order to do that, she needed to keep data simple and focus on key points in order to develop an edge.

From there she came up with what she calls Design Thinking for complex problems, which includes things like looking at patterns in the data to learn how the information could impact others, including leaders in the community. This strategic thinking enabled her to create plans and strategies on which she could act in order to become the rainmaker she knew she needed to be.

Potential Problems
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to your success is yourself. Many of us have habits and behaviors that are holding us back, even if we’re not aware we’re doing them.

In a way, this goes back to the idea of coming up with an image of what an effective performer looks like, whether it’s someone you know, or just an image in your head of the ideal healthcare professional. What would they do in your situation? What words/body language would they use?

Consistently practicing this kind of thinking can reveal behaviors and habits that are less than helpful, or even counterproductive, and allow you to come up with alternatives that are more likely to get you where you want to go.

Lack of political experience can also be a problem. The higher up you go in an organization, the more you must know about the give and take that’s so often involved in working with others. Understanding how to reach compromises to come to mutually beneficial solutions is essential to being a good leader.

To get to that point, you need to learn to look at challenges as opportunities and ask how you can use the situation to help develop others and yourself, says Jeff Kraut, EVP of Strategy and Analytics for Northwell Health.

How Does This Fit into SHSMD Bridging Worlds: The Future Role of the Healthcare Strategist?
You can use the skills-based assessment contained in Bridging Worlds to help build your own personal bridges. Competency-based leadership can be achieved, as can competency-based education (when you know what you know and how to use it).

And don’t forget to use these five keys:
  1. Remain nimble in order to be an agent for change;
  2. Foster leadership by creating user experiences (this is not a destination, but a continuous process);
  3. Erasing boundaries will be an integral part of your growth;
  4. Integrate and co-create competencies with the rest of your team; and
  5. Generate data-driven insights.
What Does the Future Hold?
We are currently on target to excel and advance as healthcare strategists. To stay on track, we can develop leadership through organizations like SHSMD and NCHL; learn to become storytellers to share wisdom and experience while developing relationships; demonstrate initiative and accountability; and show leadership by articulating a vision and building trust.

Research has shown that those who show initiative and accountability get promoted more quickly than those who don’t. At the same time, the most successful CEOs have demonstrated leadership mostly through vision. By looking at what works, we can develop a blueprint for our own success.

By Diane Weber, RN, BSN, MHA | Posted November 15, 2017
Executive Director