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Spotting the Next Crop of Leaders

Michelle Pointe, for HealthLeaders Media, August 18, 2009

Find, evaluate and covet true leaders: Step 4 of the HealthLeaders 09: Hospital of the Future Now "Talent" Panel

What's the best way to find fresh, new leaders? Should you grow them at home or recruit from outside of your organization? Finding those midlevel managers, clinical leaders, and future system leaders must be part of any viable and sustainable talent program. For two high performing health systems at opposite ends of the country, growing talent from within has kept the pipeline full with the next generation of leaders.

At Scripps Health in San Diego, offering employees the opportunity to participate in the hospital system's leadership academy has been instrumental in identifying and nurturing leadership talent from within the organization. Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO, and a featured "Talent" panelist at the HealthLeaders 09: Hospital of the Future Now conference, says these employees have truly changed the culture of the organization. The year-long program is open to all employees, from front line supervisors to C-level leaders.

The program is in its eighth year and includes a new COO and CNE in this year's class, says Van Gorder. The academy includes sessions with leaders throughout the system, including chief executives, chief nursing officers and medical group leaders.

"In one session the leaders of our affiliated medical groups come in to talk about their leadership style, challenges, and values," says Van Gorder, who also participates, giving students an opportunity to do Q&As with him throughout the program.

"In these Q&As, we encourage them to ask the toughest questions," says Van Gorder. Over the year, the trust builds and program graduates go on to challenge the organization and their peers to do a better job, he adds.

The training has been so popular that leadership academy graduates have gone on to form an alumni group and have created their own secondary and third certification levels to continue their own continuing education and leadership, says Van Gorder. "There is no question that people will come out of it and into the executive offices at Scripps," he says. "It is a very different type of leadership academy and it has been our ace in the hole."

In Rochester, MN, the Mayo Clinic also has its own brand of leadership development. Like Scripps Health, Mayo develops most of its leaders from within. "Leadership development is extremely important," says Kent Seltman, marketing division chair emeritus and also a "Talent" panelist at the HealthLeaders 09: Hospital of the Future Now conference. "Every leader is expected to identify his or her successor," says Seltman.

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