Four Key Steps to Develop Future Leaders

The changing demographics of our country have been making headlines. As the population ages and baby boomers begin to retire, labor shortages seem imminent and in some cases, potentially catastrophic. Most of the forecasts focus on a dwindling pool of applicants for entry level positions. However, leading edge health care organizations also have to be able to replace key leaders with little interruption to the business.

A number of hospitals and health networks are turning to leadership development and succession planning to help prepare for the talent shortage. This deliberate process develops current team members to the point of being able to replace senior leadership as needed. By thinking ahead and incorporating strategic programs, organizations can keep patient satisfaction high and work-flow smooth even during major transitions.

A large hospital system in Florida recognized a missing piece of the puzzle - individuals who were promoted from within often weren't given the tools to manage others. Their Emerging Leader Program tackles that issue by providing participants with a comprehensive one year program which includes the didactic and clinical, along with a mentor to help them learn how to not only manage others, but also successfully handle their new leadership responsibilities.

They have created a road map that can be used at any level across their organization. The program allows them to develop their own leaders in order to keep their best people.

I have provided four key steps for developing future leaders:

* Development plans should include standardized best practices that everyone is measured by. Employees should know the factors they are being evaluated on and outcomes depending on their performance as an individual and a team. Create the right benchmarks and then evaluate objectively. This can be achieved by having a talent management strategy in place.
* Strong communication skills are essential. Strong performers should know how to run a meeting and have the ability to handle tough conversations.
* Be consistent. Agree on measurement standards and let them be known. Employees want consistency, which gives them a chance to be prepared. Once standardized tools are in place, you can evaluate easily and objectively if problems arise.
* Hold employee retention meetings for high performers. Discuss the overall goals of the organization and ask what can be done to keep them happy and working for your organization.


Despite shifting demographics, organizations have a choice. If they want to thrive on a long-term basis, it is essential to implement strong learning and development efforts for team members. Planning effectively, for the future starts by investing in your current talent now.

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Tags: development, employee, healthcare, leadership, management, nurse, retention, talent

Comment by Tony Crisci on July 30, 2009 at 5:16pm
I agree with you, and you said, companies need to plan ahead and invest in their talent now. For optimal Succession Planning to work, it can not be based only on the results of a person in their current position. Competencies and values also need to be considered as oftentimes the competencies that make one successful in their current role are not adequate for the jump to the next level. How many times have you seen top performing sales reps. fail when they are promoted to manager? It happens all the time. (I know this is at a lower level than this specific discussion, but is a relevant example as it happens at all levels within organizations.) Each role in a company has it's own set of competencies, and there is a need to identify the competencies that are required at the next level and compare them to the competencies of the candidates being considered for succession to determine where their strengths and opportunities to grow are. Once the growth opportunities are identified, specific training can be implemented to improve in those competencies in order for the candidate to move into the new role.

For instance, Confronting Direct Reports, Managerial Courage, Directing Others, and Informing are all competencies that can be identified from your second point.
In your third point the competencies would be Managing and Measuring Work, Managing Through Systems etc.

As a part of employee retention meetings, a couple keys to higher retention rates that high potentials share which must be capitalized on, are the need to be challenged and encouraged to grow, and the need for meaningful work.

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