Challenges of Youth

By Nicholas R. Tejeda

Boards can play a key role in guiding, supporting young health system leaders

It is generally accepted that executive development and succession planning are critical tools in organizational development.

Less discussed, however, is what happens when the executive development process brings a young CEO to the helm of a complex health care system — often filled with stakeholders with significantly more experience than the new leader.

These stakeholders can include employees, physicians, board members, community leaders, elected officials and even volunteers. The challenges of a health care organization faced with introducing and integrating a young executive are significant and must be deliberately addressed to ensure immediate and long-term success for the enterprise.

Over the past 10 years, I have asked key stakeholders to describe their feelings when they learned a young leader would be joining their team. “Shock,” “anger,” “confusion,” “frustration,” “insulted,” “guarded” and “apathy” have been among the responses.

These initial reactions, combined with the inevitable mistakes made by any new executive (young or old), can make the first few months of a new leader’s term difficult. Some of my personal experiences illustrate this point.

To