2019 - A Renewed Commitment to Talent—Transformative Leaders Needed

Joe Fournier

Advisory Board Chairman and Consultant

It's that time of year already---the time when you start thinking about what to give and do for the holidays. It is the season of year-end financials, annual evaluations and budget approvals, holiday parties and winter break. While preparing to take some well-deserved time off, we are often prompted to reflect on the past year and to think about what we are going to do next year.

2018 will be remembered as a dynamic time in the health care industry, in my opinion. The year has been filled with new market entrants, financial pressures, and nonstop change that shows no signs of slowing in 2019. In just the last week, two technology related moves were revealed that will shape and impact our industry for years to come. Amazon, in its latest move as a major player in health care, announced that it is marketing software that will allow doctors and hospitals to harvest patient medical records to enhance treatment and pare down costs.

Meanwhile, Aetna, a CVS Health business, and Ascension announced they are joining Synaptic, a consortium that will apply blockchain technology to improve data quality and reduce administrative costs associated with changes to health care provider demographic data. Big news indeed and we can anticipate more news from the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in January 2019.

The New Normal

New market entrants and collaborations have become the norm in health care. Every day, against a backdrop of highly competitive and fluctuating local, regional and national markets, leaders must consider how their organizations can deliver consistently safer, compassionate and more affordable care to their patients, families and communities. As InveniasPartners advises and finds the leaders that health care organizations across the country need for today and the future, we are hearing three consistent themes:

1. The Continued Rise of Shared Services - Integration involves seamless coordination of service, or in health care, bringing together care across all services including preventative, community, outpatient, acute and post-acute environments.

2. Addressing Failing Businesses - Turnarounds are on the rise again. Driven executives are tackling tough issues and operational challenges – acting as turnaround managers who take drastic and immediate action to achieve success.

3.  A Culture of Transformation - Transformation is perhaps the most difficult because it requires a dramatic change from one state of being to another over years, not months. Not a "one and done" exercise, it is highly strategic, deliberative process fraught with people matters as beliefs, behaviors and feelings are tested.

In some cases, our clients are taking one or more of these actions simultaneously and doing so under severe financial and/or time pressure. For some organizations, the changing marketplace will threaten their very existence and require drastic change for survival.

The Call for Transformative Leadership

Often, these actions are lumped together under the umbrella of strategic change that is driven by the organization's board and their own reflection on mission and market conditions. We find that when organizations recruit new executive talent, they highlight a consistent theme—the need for transformative leaders. They are seeking leaders ready to transform the way the enterprise operates in order to provide safer, consistent, and more affordable care and services to patients and customers.

In my last blog, I noted that CEOs always describe an ideal leader as the person who has significant expertise in their discipline and who is innovative, decisive, and action oriented. Now, they also mention the need for someone who operates with compassion, empathy, and a collaborative spirit - a leader who will transform the organization.

When it comes to developing a talent strategy, it is critical to pinpoint the type of work the new leader will be asked to do. Beyond the work, it is equally important to carefully consider how the work fits in the context of your organization's culture. When selecting a new leader, consider whether there are deeply held traditions, beliefs and practices that will either challenge or support the leader as she starts the work. With little room for error, selecting the right leader for the position is the same as selecting the right tool for a repair project.

As you wrap up 2018 and start to think about next year, consider your talent strategy. What leaders to you need and where do you need them?

Free to email me with your questions or ideas at