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Top Leadership Teams Secrets Revealed

Jim Molpus, for HealthLeaders Media, March 4, 2008
About this time of year, as the March 27 deadline looms for the annual Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare program, I start to get questions from prospective entrants on what the secret is to winning a Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare designation.

Here is the secret.

There is no secret.

Our panel of judges is simply looking for the best in senior-level leadership teamwork at a hospital, health plan and medical group practice. Teamwork is too often misinterpreted as a situation in which its members get along well or exist on "team chemistry." Those are qualities that are present on outstanding teams, but truly outstanding leadership teams are more about putting the right talent together and achieving the goals set out by the team.

So our judges look for:

  • Teamwork exhibited among an organization's senior leaders to achieve stated operational goals/objectives
  • How a senior leadership team works together to effectively overcome any challenges/barriers encountered along the way to reaching its goals/objectives
  • The success of senior leadership in meeting the team's goals/objectives
Beyond the official rules, there are some consistent threads that we have seen among the winning Top Leadership Teams, now in its fifth year.
  • Consistency--Many of the winning Top Leadership Teams have had their core of senior leaders together for a period of several years, as many of the worthwhile goals in healthcare take as long to achieve.
  • No tolerance for silos--Winning Top Leadership Teams have found ways to break down traditional silos and barriers that can block healthcare organizations from achieving their goals.
  • Strong at the top, but not dominant--Winning leadership teams have highly-effective CEOs. But we have found that almost every winner over the first four years has had a CEO who delegated key strategic responsibilities to top team members, held them accountable for achieving these goals, but ultimately stayed out of the way.
  • Transparent--Winning teams in healthcare have to be transparent about what they are doing, who is doing it, and how success or failure is measured. Transparency is a core value that the Top Leadership Teams program is meant to encourage.
  • Be a quality organization--While the Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare Award is intended to recognize outstanding leadership teamwork, we do recognize that outstanding leadership teams lead outstanding organizations. Healthcare organizations that are embroiled in scandal need not apply.

One of the most rewarding aspects to the program has been the number of entrants over the years who told us how rewarding it was just to go through the exercise of articulating their leadership teamwork. We have also found over the years that teams often win on their second or third try as they are able to demonstrate the leadership teamwork over a longer time frame.

We encourage all hospitals, health plans and medical groups who feel like they have the teamwork to make healthcare better to apply for the program at www.topleadershipteams.net. Deadline for entries is March 27.


Jim Molpus is editor-in-chief at HealthLeaders Media. He may be reached at jmolpus@healthleadersmedia.com.