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Executive succession as a talent strategy

By | November 20 th,  2017 | Talent Acquisition, NuBrick Partners, succession planning, Blog, Leadership Development, Executive Succession, Talent Retention | Add A Comment

It’s daunting to think about your executive leaders parting from the organization, but spending time planning for this inevitability can actually reduce surprises and even help retain your top talent. Research has shown that teams feel more engaged when they can see the path forward and have better awareness of development and growth opportunities.


Thinking about succession planning can be overwhelming, but when you utilize a system that walks you through every step it can alleviate organizational anxieties, and help to solidify your plans for future bottom-line growth.


In a recent article in Wharton Healthcare Quarterly, Bob Clarke and Joe Mazzenga of Furst Group and NuBrick Partners found that more than 50 percent of organization had no formalized succession plan for their executive leadership team. So, if you don’t have something in place, you’re not alone.


Succession Planning Graphic

Many HR teams lack the abundance of resources to effectively manage even the immediate needs of an organization, so asking them to look into the future three, five, or even 10 years continues to lose in the battle for time and resources on the priority list. But if it’s reframed properly as a retention strategy, it tends to get the top-line billing that it needs to truly deliver a competitive advantage in talent acquisition and retention, as well as a growth perspective.


Being able to create a data-driven development plan that allows your executive leadership team to thrive comes from knowing where you want to take the organization in the short and long term. It can be difficult to plan effectively if you are unsure of your team’s intentions when it comes to retirement, desire for growth and so on.


Also, when you consider the deep impact an unexpected change in your executive leadership will have both culturally and operationally on your organization, succession planning must be considered an immediate, high-level need.


Learn more about Executive Succession from NuBrick Partners by reading their latest article A Benchmark for Success: Executive Succession and Leadership Development

2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare: Wright Lassiter: In healthcare's new order, no time to bask in past success

By | November 8 th,  2016 | Allegiance Health, Baldrige, merger, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, Health Alliance Plan, Modern Healthcare, president, succession, succession planning, transformation, Alameda County Medical Center, Blog, CEO, HealthPlus of Michigan, Henry Ford Health System, Nancy Schlichting, Wright Lassiter III | Add A Comment

 

Classic content: One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Wright Lassiter earned kudos as a CEO for engineering a huge turnaround of the troubled Alameda County Health System in California. Now, as he succeeds Nancy Schlichting as the leader of the prestigious and celebrated Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, you might think he could take a deep breath and relax a bit.

 

But that’s not how he sees it at all.

 

“As we look at the next 5 to 10 years, the way that quality and safety outcomes will be measured will be different,” he says. “We’re clearly moving even more from volume to value and risk, so I think the measures for success for Henry Ford in the future will be different than they have been for the last 10 or 15 years. I strongly believe that there is transformation required for our organization. We need to focus differently than we have in the past.”

 

Henry Ford won the coveted Malcolm Baldrige Award for quality in 2011, just one of a series of major accomplishments in its long history of stellar healthcare. Lassiter says one of his tasks in seeking to propel Ford to even greater heights is to remind his staff that past glories are no guarantee of future results.

 

“In a rapidly changing industry that may require different things of us, some days I worry about the complacency that could spring from so many years of excellence,” he says.
In particular, notes Lassiter, the future success of Henry Ford may not be as closely tied to the success of hospitals as it has been in the past.

 

“For the next five or 10 years, we’re going to have to leverage our large medical group, community medical staff and our insurance company much more effectively than we have in the past,” he says. “That will require both executional and cultural shifts to do even more of what we call integrated care and coverage, this notion of a more narrow network. And I think we’re perfectly situated to do that.”

 

 

To grow, Henry Ford is stretching out beyond its traditional home of Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, where it has provided care for the past century. In recent months, the health system has merged HealthPlus of Michigan, an insurance company 75 miles north of Detroit, into Health Alliance Plan and merged Allegiance Health, a system 90 miles west of Detroit, into the system. They’re also partnering on the Aldara Hospital and Medical Center, a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that will open later this year.

 

“These are the kinds of things we’ll be doing more of in the next five-plus years and that will require some transformation,” Lassiter says.

 

The announcement of Lassiter’s appointment as Schlichting’s successor struck some as unusual in the healthcare world simply because of the length of the handoff was two years. But, as Lassiter notes, there were some unusual circumstances.

 

“If it was a planned succession within the organization, two years is not necessarily that unusual,” he says. “But for us, the board thought it made sense because they had agreed on Nancy’s retirement date, and there was a lot of strategic work that they wanted to happen. The board was very clear that they wanted the new CEO to be fully engaged in the strategic work to reduce the risk of transition derailment or midstream change.”

 

When Lassiter came aboard, Schlichting quickly moved many of her key executives into a structure that reported to Lassiter. A number of those leaders, who had been contemplating their own retirements, warmed to Lassiter quickly and agreed to stick around as part of the transition team. And then came one of those unexpected circumstances that upped the ante – in June 2015, President Obama asked Schlichting to become the chairperson of the Commission on Care, which Congress established to find the best way to provide healthcare to military veterans.

 

“Nancy has acknowledged from day one that there was no way she could have served the nation in this role unless she and the Henry Ford board had agreed on an overlapping transition period,” Lassiter says. “The commission requires her to travel quite a bit, and that has actually accelerated the transition process as well.”

 

As Lassiter puts his own stamp on Henry Ford over the next decade, what will constitute success? He lists four items:

 

• HFHS will leverage its Baldrige award to become a high-reliability organization, one that can put its safety record up against the aviation and nuclear industries;

 

• It will be seen as the leading value-based healthcare system in the country;

 

• It will have developed a comprehensive statewide delivery system across Michigan – and beyond;

 

• It will be in the top 10 percent in metrics for employee engagement, physician engagement, customer service and safety scores.

 

“If I could look back 10 years and we had achieved these things, I’d say we had been wildly successful,” he says.

 

 

Wright Lassiter: In healthcare's new order, no time to bask in past success

By | May 20 th,  2016 | Allegiance Health, Baldrige, merger, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, Health Alliance Plan, Modern Healthcare, president, succession, succession planning, transformation, Alameda County Medical Center, Blog, CEO, HealthPlus of Michigan, Henry Ford Health System, Nancy Schlichting, Wright Lassiter III | Add A Comment

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Wright Lassiter earned kudos as a CEO for engineering a huge turnaround of the troubled Alameda County Health System in California. Now, as he succeeds Nancy Schlichting as the leader of the prestigious and celebrated Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, you might think he could take a deep breath and relax a bit.

 

But that’s not how he sees it at all.

 

“As we look at the next 5 to 10 years, the way that quality and safety outcomes will be measured will be different,” he says. “We’re clearly moving even more from volume to value and risk, so I think the measures for success for Henry Ford in the future will be different than they have been for the last 10 or 15 years. I strongly believe that there is transformation required for our organization. We need to focus differently than we have in the past.”

 

Henry Ford won the coveted Malcolm Baldrige Award for quality in 2011, just one of a series of major accomplishments in its long history of stellar healthcare. Lassiter says one of his tasks in seeking to propel Ford to even greater heights is to remind his staff that past glories are no guarantee of future results.

 

“In a rapidly changing industry that may require different things of us, some days I worry about the complacency that could spring from so many years of excellence,” he says.
In particular, notes Lassiter, the future success of Henry Ford may not be as closely tied to the success of hospitals as it has been in the past.

 

“For the next five or 10 years, we’re going to have to leverage our large medical group, community medical staff and our insurance company much more effectively than we have in the past,” he says. “That will require both executional and cultural shifts to do even more of what we call integrated care and coverage, this notion of a more narrow network. And I think we’re perfectly situated to do that.”

 

 

To grow, Henry Ford is stretching out beyond its traditional home of Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, where it has provided care for the past century. In recent months, the health system has merged HealthPlus of Michigan, an insurance company 75 miles north of Detroit, into Health Alliance Plan and merged Allegiance Health, a system 90 miles west of Detroit, into the system. They’re also partnering on the Aldara Hospital and Medical Center, a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that will open later this year.

 

“These are the kinds of things we’ll be doing more of in the next five-plus years and that will require some transformation,” Lassiter says.

 

The announcement of Lassiter’s appointment as Schlichting’s successor struck some as unusual in the healthcare world simply because of the length of the handoff was two years. But, as Lassiter notes, there were some unusual circumstances.

 

“If it was a planned succession within the organization, two years is not necessarily that unusual,” he says. “But for us, the board thought it made sense because they had agreed on Nancy’s retirement date, and there was a lot of strategic work that they wanted to happen. The board was very clear that they wanted the new CEO to be fully engaged in the strategic work to reduce the risk of transition derailment or midstream change.”

 

When Lassiter came aboard, Schlichting quickly moved many of her key executives into a structure that reported to Lassiter. A number of those leaders, who had been contemplating their own retirements, warmed to Lassiter quickly and agreed to stick around as part of the transition team. And then came one of those unexpected circumstances that upped the ante – in June 2015, President Obama asked Schlichting to become the chairperson of the Commission on Care, which Congress established to find the best way to provide healthcare to military veterans.

 

“Nancy has acknowledged from day one that there was no way she could have served the nation in this role unless she and the Henry Ford board had agreed on an overlapping transition period,” Lassiter says. “The commission requires her to travel quite a bit, and that has actually accelerated the transition process as well.”

 

As Lassiter puts his own stamp on Henry Ford over the next decade, what will constitute success? He lists four items:

 

• HFHS will leverage its Baldrige award to become a high-reliability organization, one that can put its safety record up against the aviation and nuclear industries;

 

• It will be seen as the leading value-based healthcare system in the country;

 

• It will have developed a comprehensive statewide delivery system across Michigan – and beyond;

 

• It will be in the top 10 percent in metrics for employee engagement, physician engagement, customer service and safety scores.

 

“If I could look back 10 years and we had achieved these things, I’d say we had been wildly successful,” he says.

 

 

Nancy Schlichting's willingness to take risks is still paying off for Henry Ford Health System

By | July 1 st,  2015 | Detroit, retirement, Wright Lassiter, Modern Healthcare, succession planning, Blog, CEO, diversity, Henry Ford Health System, leadership, Nancy Schlichting, Malcolm Baldrige, Top 25 Women in Healthcare | Add A Comment

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Women in Healthcare for 2015.

 

Nancy Schlichting has become known for bold, unconventional leadership during her tenure at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where she’s served as the CEO since 2003. She’s won numerous awards and led major initiatives, like the process that led to Henry Ford winning the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2011.
But the key to great leadership, she says, is developing and nurturing relationships.

 

“I think you have to understand that every interaction matters,” she says. “Leaders are under a spotlight all the time, and so consistency and interest and openness are things that go a very long way. Smile. Lift people up.”

 

For example, when Schlichting eats in the cafeteria, she will sit with anyone.

 

“Unfortunately, I don’t get to the cafeteria as often as I should, but when I do go, I think everyone in the cafeteria must go out and tell everyone I do that. It’s always amazing to me how your reputation gets built, and it’s not by promoting it yourself. It’s just the fact that everyone around you observes.”

 

Her peers in the healthcare industry would probably make the observation that Schlichting is a forward-thinking, fearless leader. Schlichting herself merely says that she has less trepidation about taking risks.

 

“What I’ve found in life is that the most important things you do are probably the hardest, and I think that’s why a lot of people don’t do them. It’s hard sometimes to do the right thing because you’ve got to deal with the potential conflict, the risks that come with it. If I had felt that way when I came to Michigan, we probably wouldn’t have done half the things we’ve done because they weren’t easy. Sometimes the hardest things are the right things, but they’re not the things that everyone will gravitate to.”

 

When Schlichting decided it was time to retire, she brought in her handpicked successor, Wright Lassiter, for a two-year transition plan that is scheduled to end in December 2016. “I told my board when we started this process, ‘If you think I need to go sooner, just tell me.’ I want what’s best for the organization, that’s my Number One goal. I do not want this to be an abrupt, disruptive transition.”

 

Schlichting had met Lassiter on a U.S. News & World Report healthcare panel at a conference. She was so impressed by what he had to say on the panel that she went back to her hotel room and Googled him to learn more about him. Thus began a yearlong process in which the two executives and the Henry Ford board began to explore whether Lassiter might be a fit as the next CEO.

 

When Lassiter arrived from the Alameda Health System, where he had been the subject of a glowing cover story in Fast Company about the turnaround he and his team engineered at Alameda, Schlichting restructured the organizational chart so all the major divisions of the health systems now report to him.

 

“He has really jumped right in working with the senior leaders, and that is what’s really making this work,” she adds. “The other thing is that we’re in the midst of a lot of strategic change going on in our industry, so he is leading our major, strategic decisions moving forward.”

 

Lassiter’s arrival was far from the only succession plan moving forward at Henry Ford. Ed Chadwick also recently arrived as the new chief financial officer, and Schlichting installed Peggy Burns as the new senior vice president of development, in addition to several new chairpersons in the medical group.

 

But Schlichting says Lassiter’s leadership is making the transition to a new generation of executives much more seamless.

 

“I think some of our leaders had been saying to themselves, ‘I’m going to retire when Nancy goes,’ ” she says. “But now, I think they’re delaying that a bit because they really like working with Wright. So some of those transitions may now be staggered, and that’s to the benefit of the organization.”

 

Schlichting is moving on perhaps a few years earlier than the typical CEO – she’ll be 62 when she leaves – but says she knew it was time.

 

“I have been in either a CEO or COO role in very large hospitals or health systems for 32 years. I also happen to believe that, after about 10 years in any position, you’re not bringing the same level of creativity and energy that you did in the early years. It’s just human nature.”

 

At the same time, there are other interests she wants to pursue.

 

“I watched all of my extended family pass away before I was 16,” she says. “I’ve always known that life is short. I’ve put a lot of interests on the back burner for a long time and I want to move those up on my list of priorities.”

 

That would include more time with her partner Pam, playing the violin, gardening cooking, golf, and volunteer work.

 

“I sit at a lot of board tables and that’s great, but you don’t have the same rewards you have when you get closer to the action,” Schlichting says. “I want to do things that are more front-line, working with kids or working with people in need in our community so that I can feel that sense of connection.”

 

Beyond her leadership style, she says she hopes her legacy will include a reputation as a champion of diversity.

 

“Diversity enriches an organization,” she says. “All types of diversity have been shown to improve the performance of an organization, and the reason is obvious – you’ve got a very diverse workforce and when you have people at the top that represent the diversity in your world, everybody can look to someone and feel inspired by that.”

 

When Schlichting arrived in Detroit, only two of Henry Ford’s senior leaders were women. Today, there are 16, and that is one change she is proud of.

 

“That’s pretty cool, but it was not a strategy. It was about women looking at this organization and saying, ‘This is an enlightened place. This is where I want to be.’ ”

 

Schlichting is very involved as a civic leader in Detroit’s slow renaissance – she’s staying involved after her retirement – and says the city’s challenges have made her a better leader: “There were a lot of years where people looked at Detroit and said, ‘Why would I want to come there?’ If you didn’t create an environment where people loved working here and loved being part of the leadership team, we could not have succeeded as we have.”

 

 

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