Leadership succession does not need to be extremely difficult. However, it does require time, a carefully planned process, well-defined roles, and the intent of all parties to achieve a successful transition—along with the trust to make these various aspects come together. In a CEO succession, the work does not begin at the time of an announced retirement or departure but rather well in advance. The outgoing CEO must want to make the upcoming transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved. The organization must already be committed to the ongoing education of its board, medical staff, and administrators so that all stakeholders are well prepared to execute the transition. Candidates for the CEO role in transition also must be confident in the knowledge of their own needs as well as the needs of the organization. When everyone’s best interests come together to create a good fit, the succession can be successful.
In this article, the leadership transition at one healthcare system is recounted from the perspectives of three principal players: the outgoing president and CEO, the chair of the board of trustees search committee, and the incoming president and CEO.