Someone to Lean On

Reprinted with permission from the February 2017 issue of Trustee magazine, vol. 70, no. 2. © Copyright 2017 by Health Forum Inc. Permission granted for digital use only.

By Andrew Cox and Andrew P. Chastain

One of the outgrowths of transformational change in health care has been a significantly expanded workload for CEOs. Everything important seems to flow through the chief executive, who is expected to steer the ship while scanning the horizon for threats and opportunities. He or she is responsible for quality, culture, structure, finance (with the chief financial officer), vision and strategy, community relations and more, and must be able to draw upon a broad and diverse set of skills.

In addition, the CEO has many constituents to serve, including the board of directors, whose expectations and responsibilities for strategic input and engagement have increased in recent years. Meanwhile, the stakes in health care have risen, the pace of change has quickened, organizations have grown, and new competitors are emerging. Can one person realistically be expected to capably handle so many things?

The answer is no, at least not without help. One solution is a chief of staff. The chief of staff position has long been a fixture in the political arena as well as in the corporate world. It is fairly new but gaining favor in health care.

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