February 18, 2016
Moore Mission Moments - The Watershed Group
Recruiting Management at the Executive Level
by Patti Moore
So - your CEO is leaving, and you’re faced with the challenge of finding a new leader who’s the right fit for your organization. This may have been a planned exit, or an unexpected change of course: In either case, getting the right CEO/ED is key to the health of any organization, and no more so than in hospice, where mission is such a critical piece of the work we do.


In the past, hospice leaders most often came from the clinical world - nursing, counseling, or social work - with a business background. Today’s CEO needs a good grasp of not only the increasing emphasis on the business side of the organization, but also the clinical operations. While candidates don’t necessarily have to have MBAs, they must understand financials, profit and loss statements, and gross returns on investments. And with the new challenges we’re facing, entrepreneurial experience and attitude is as important today as it was at the beginning of the hospice movement.


Insider or outsider?

Your best option may already be waiting in the wings. An internal candidate who’s been groomed for the job is ideal. Identifying future leaders within your organization, and fostering people who want to move up should be ongoing. If you hire a CEO/ED from within, there should be a seamless transition when the change is made.


If no viable inside candidate exists, you’ll need to mount an executive search. Organizations reflect their leader’s personality, whether that’s bold and forward thinking, or conservative and risk-averse.  A thoughtful, clear-eyed assessment of your organization’s aims, now and for the future, is key to making the right choice of leadership.  Getting clarity around your mission, and these three questions will help you define your needs:

  1. What’s your vision? Is your organization looking to grow, or to maintain the status quo? Are you considering expansion into new areas or services?

  2. How’s your health?  Is your organization stable and growing, or shrinking? Is it stagnant, or in financial trouble?

  3. What’s your culture? Is change embraced, or challenged?

Once your board members agree on a direction for the future, you can seek out the leader who can take you there.


And when you’re hunting for that next leader, you’ve got to be ready to look beyond the résumé: While experience, education and background are important, the more critical qualities are their character, values, personality, and passion for the work.


Next time, I’ll talk about some of the things that can go wrong in the search process – and how to avoid costly mistakes in hiring.


Many cultures see the dreams of the dying as a sacred portal to the other side, one that potentially offers us insights into that profoundly mysterious experience. Yet this topic has largely been ignored or dismissed by modern researchers, probably because they’re afraid of drawing ridicule from their peers, or seeming to be delving into areas in which science has no place, in their view; the spiritual, the metaphysical.


Hospice Buffalo palliative care physician Dr. Christopher Kerr is doing important work on the topic of the dreams of the dying – and anyone who works with this population needs to read this fascinating report from the New York Times on what he and his team are finding out.


You might also enjoy Dr. Kerr’s talk on the topic at TEDxBuffalo; deeply personal, moving in its observations, he talks about his life as a doctor in hospice, how profoundly it’s impacted his views of life and death, and about what matters for us and for our patients at the end of life.

The leadership of many not-for-profit hospices has begun to change as we’re seeing long-term hospice CEOs of legacy programs retiring, a trend destined to pick up speed over the next three to five years:  Diane Stringer, president and CEO of Care Dimensions for the past 27 years, recently announced that she will retire later this year, when the organization’s board of directors’ has found her replacement. Organizations should be planning now for those transitions, which will challenge them to adapt to new leadership and refocus boards of directors to reevaluate mission, vision and strategy. 

I’m delighted to have made the match between Collier County's long-standing nonprofit hospice organization, Avow, and their new president and CEO Jaysen Roa, replacing former president and chief executive officer Karen Rollins who announced her retirement last year. Roa was most recently Executive Director of Good Shepherd Hospice Inc., which serves more than 500 terminally ill patients annually in Polk and Hardee counties in Central Florida.


I’ll be traveling to various client sites in Florida over the next couple of weeks to conduct strategic planning sessions with Boards of Directors and executive team leadership retreats, and spending time with Hospice CEOs doing strategic advising for problem solving and innovation discussions. Hope to see you!

The Watershed Group
Phone: 352-495-2800  |  Fax: 352-495-1810
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The Watershed Group 5745 SW 75th St #323 Gainsville, Florida 32608 United States (352) 495-2800