Part 4: Accelerating Development – The Science Behind NCHL’s 2013 National Health Leadership Survey

Several weeks ago, NCHL launched the most recent round of its triennial national survey of leadership development practices in healthcare.  An announcement was sent out to a national sample of CHROs and COOs, with an open invitation to other hospitals and health systems who may be interested in participating to benchmark their own practices.  While we work on collecting results, I will be sharing a few posts about the science behind the survey.

Hiring Practices

The current survey asks many more questions than previous ones about hiring practices for healthcare leaders.  The simple reason for this is that personnel selection practices can be unusually potent tools for ensuring leadership bench strength.  For the interested reader, a 1998 review article by Frank Schmidt and John Hunter, summarizing 85+ years of personnel selection research, shows clearly just how much the more systematic approaches outperform the more informal approaches managers tend to naturally gravitate toward.  Much of this research points to the fundamental rule that the best predictor of future performance is past performance under similar circumstances.  In a subsequent review article in 2005, I demonstrated that the same is true for leadership positions .

Many health systems have adopted pre-screens and other structured assessment protocols for their staff positions; remarkably, however, many of these organizations do not exercise the same care when it comes to hiring new leaders.

Why is this the case?  I suspect it has to do with the reality that healthcare has been slower than other industries to recognize what the profession of human resource management has to offer by way of evidence-based approaches to process improvement. Because HR grew up in an era of compliance, this remains the lens that many healthcare systems still look through.

That noted, I am optimistic that our newest survey will reveal expanded use of effective selection tools across the health system.  Given the challenges our sector is facing, I certainly hope this will be the case.

About the survey

If your hospital or health system did not receive an invitation to participate in NCHL’s survey (or if you’re not sure but would like to participate), please contact Joyce Anne Wainio at

About Andrew Garman

Chief Executive Officer, NCHL; Professor, Health Systems Management Department, Rush University

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