The public sector is not just guided by the maximisation of profit but is often values-based. Schools want to educate, healthcare organisations want to provide high-quality care, a fire department wants to put out fires, and prevent them if possible too. This broad sense of responsibility attracts a different kind of employee, motivated by the purpose and values of the organisation.

Paradoxically, in the profit-driven private sector, a trend towards purpose and responsibility seems to be gaining traction as well.

Google wants to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Ben and Jerry’s Ice-Cream strives to minimize their negative impact on the environment. H&M wants to keep innovating.

When a company demonstrates an authentic purpose, consumers and employees seem to feel a connection to the company and its products.

You can find another good example of a broad interpretation of responsibilities, beyond maximization of profit, at family businesses. For them, the performance of the business is one of the important goals, but so is achieving strong coherence of culture and keeping the family committed to and capable of carrying on as the owner.

Best intentions

When it comes to healthcare organisations, their mission is helping to enhance the quality of life for a country’s population.

Hospitals have been doing so with the best intentions, but with very mixed results. With today’s complex systems and ever-increasing scale of operations, hospitals can no longer just be run by doctors who are still clinically active, supported by finance managers.

In order to achieve sustainable improvements in outcomes and affordability, hospitals will need to rethink several things. These include their use of doctor’s time and all of the processes typical in a hospital environment, as well as the employment of capital and technology.

Leadership values

In various places around the world, we do see hospitals transforming themselves around patient flows, actually decreasing the volume of medical interventions and being much smarter about creating patient wellbeing.

With our very strong position in the healthcare sector in most developed markets around the world, we at Odgers Berndtson often find ourselves asking a key question:

“What values drive leadership in the healthcare sector”?

We believe that transformational healthcare leaders need to be more than skilled supervisors. They have to serve as role models, challenging others to be innovative and creative. They must be empathetic and true to the organisation’s healthcare purpose.

This behaviour empowers doctors and nurses to move towards what we in the healthcare world call value-based healthcare outcomes. This gives extra meaning to the achievements of all in the value chain involved.

Where executive search enters the equation

There are quite a few progressive leaders talking about value chains, significantly scaling down and reducing costs, whilst still improving health outcomes. These leaders actively seek to engage doctors and nurses on what kind of healthcare really adds to the wellbeing of the patient.

How we can help

In our advice, we aim to add value in these three ways:

  • By contributing to insights on the types of leadership that are needed to realise the change agenda, in order to significantly improve quality of care and drive cost down at the same time.

  • By helping to improve the performance of the team as a whole. Success has its roots in the diversity of skills, experience and backgrounds in a team, and its legitimacy to address the behaviour. It’s not just about skills or competencies. An organisation’s purpose and ambition is ultimately the main driver of a board’s behaviour, legitimacy and performance.

  • By finding the right personalities who fit with the purpose and responsibility of a healthcare payor or provider. We aim to find individuals who create the right stories and demonstrate the leadership style that will motivate an organisation to embrace change and drive success.

Ultimately, if leadership empowers a healthcare provider to offer much better care at much lower costs, as a result of finding the right team, we can all feel proud.

Jochem Overbosch

Jochem Overbosch is a Senior Partner of Odgers Berndtson's Amsterdam office and a member of the Global Healthcare Practice. He advises healthcare payors and providers in both the cure and care sect...

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