Tom DeBord, now president of Summa Healthcare's Barberton Hospital, credits help from senior colleagues in his eventual transition to president after starting at the hospital 23 years ago as director of accounting. The culture of servant leadership is ingrained throughout the system, where senior executives serve as "teachers" in actual classroom settings to help mentor the younger generation who will eventually step into leadership roles at the system.
"All of us have worked really hard to build confidence in our brand within our communities, and having folks in place who can step in is essential to maintaining the trust that the community has in that brand," he says. "I worked hard and I felt like I deserved to get the opportunities, but I had somebody helping me along the way."
Alan Bradford, chief human resources officer at Baptist Healthcare in Birmingham, AL, came to healthcare from the grocery business, but has worked hard to instill a sense of possibility within the system, so that junior executives don't necessarily feel the need to go elsewhere to advance. But that doesn't mean making promises you can't necessarily deliver, he says.
"You have to be bluntly honest with them: We're training you and developing you because you're showing potential, but we don't have a clear, defined role open for you. But when we do have a position, we're not going to hire it from the outside if we have a viable candidate inside. We'll take a risk on someone internally that we wouldn't take on an external person."
Take a look at the transcript for this event, which I moderated, if you haven't already. It's free, and it's required reading for executives who want to make leadership development a top priority, straight from executives who already do.