Recruiting New Leaders

Several leadership vacancies will be available soon that are key to your success in effecting change. Several members are lobbying you for themselves, or others, to fill the roles. Several of the groups need major overhauls, but not all members of the group see the need for change. Should you just appoint people to the roles, or should you follow some process? And how do you position the group and the future leader for success in the future?

 When a leader is not re-appointed, then the search process begins. The search committee is usually comprised of the same individuals as the review committee. The first meeting of the search committee reviews the job/role description, the job advertisement, discusses where the job will be advertised, discusses specific expectations and qualities for the role, and potential candidates. Because the advertisement and where it is placed may have implications for hiring foreign candidates, so HR and/or external legal advice may be needed. The chair of the search committee then assembles a “long list” of candidates, including seeking CVs of likely candidates.

The next meeting of the search committee is to shorten the “long list” to a “short list” of candidates. While the decision to interview should be based on merit, often internal candidates are invited to be interviewed. The identified candidates are then invited to participate in the search process and are provided with the external reviewer’s report and response of the incumbent (see my previous post on Reviewing Leaders). Those that agree to visit or compete for the position, complete individual interviews with members of the search committee and individuals from the hospital (and/or the university, if relevant). The candidates also meet with a group of trainees and have a group meeting with divisional/department members (with individual meetings as required). If visiting from another institution, this visit often takes a couple of days.

For academic institutions, the candidates may also give a seminar open to the hospital. An evaluation template can be distributed among the audience and used to evaluate each candidate.

At the end of their meetings, the candidates come before the search committee to make a brief presentation (without slides) articulating a vision for the division/department, provide strategies to achieve that vision, and detail their experience or skills that would lead the committee to believe the candidate would be successful in implementing their proposed strategies. The presentation is followed by around an hour of questions from the search committee. A skills template can also be useful in determining the experience and skill of candidates. Standardized questions during the candidate interview may also be useful to probe critical skill domains. The meeting with the final candidate is usually extended to choose the top candidate(s). Sometimes a second round of interviews is needed to choose the new leader, but in general no more than the two candidates should be invited for a second visit. Prior to finalising the choice and extending an offer to the preferred candidate, reference checks from prior institutions must be completed. In addition to a written standard template letter of reference (also usually needed for the hospital appointment process), reference checks should include a conversation with their prior supervisor to establish the candidate’s knowledge, skill, judgment, trustworthiness, confirmation that they exhibit acceptable behaviour, and that they would be a cultural fit with the position and organization.

In summary, among the most important tasks is the recruitment of effective leaders. The search and review processes are arduous, but vital to the recruitment of effective and successful leaders.

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