In the relative quiet before the storm, healthcare executives at all levels should take time to rethink their career management strategies.

Calm before the stormA long-time friend, a health system CEO who has built an impressive record with service development, facility expansion and modernization, and a steady, if not impressive, financial performance that has produced a healthy balance sheet replete with enviable cash reserves, is ready to call it quits seven years ahead of the official retirement age.  “I just don’t know if I want to relearn this job, to learn the new rules for success.  I don’t want to stay too long.”

He is not alone.  The game-changing impact of the Affordable Care Act and the inevitable deficit reduction programs that some believe will require a structural reform of Medicare and Medicaid, is forcing many of my friend’s peers to question whether they want to deal with what many call “the great aggravation.” 

This upheaval, combined with the rising tide of Baby Boomer retirements, will produce record CEO turnover over the next seven years.  This will open the door for a host of next generation leaders who have for years risen through the ranks in anticipation of the corner office and CEO title.

For this next wave of senior leaders, they, too, should ask some critical questions: 

  • Am I up for this kind of challenge? 
  • Am I a great operator who will be an outstanding leader, or am I just a good manager who did well under the current rules in less stressful times?” 

There is no shame in knowing your strengths, and weaknesses, and being honest about them. 

Here are some other career management questions that executives should consider:

  • Do you have the intellectual horsepower to master a business model change?
  • Do you have the skills – from excellence in verbal and written communications to the ability to create innovative new strategies – to benefit from regulatory, reimbursement and market shifts?
  • Are you prepared to make the tough calls on human capital development, investing in enriching your team and to move out those who do not measure up, regardless of the personal history?
  • Do you have the passion and the energy to do what it takes to focus on the internal operations while spending more time dealing with market-wide developments?
  • Are you prepared to make the life balance sacrifices, when necessary?  Do you have the discipline to know exactly when to pull back and re-think life’s priorities? 

The next seven years will be unlike any we have seen in healthcare.  Before the upheaval begins, this is a good time to take a few minutes to ask:  “Is this what I really want to do with my life?” 

© 2012 John Gregory Self