Contemporary Approaches to Leadership Development in Healthcare

Overcoming Leadership Challenges in Healthcare

Today’s healthcare executives face unique leadership challenges driven by unprecedented advances in medicine, technology, and reimbursement. Hospital and healthcare leaders are committed to optimal quality patient outcomes encompassing patient experience, staff engagement, cost effective high quality care. While every industry has their fair share of leadership challenges, the healthcare industry is at a critical intersection between improving quality of care and access to highly qualified nursing leaders.

Common Leadership Challenges for Nursing Executives


  • Health system consolidation
  • Multi-generational and multi-cultural workforce
  • Shifts in organizational culture
  • Organizational redesign from the bedside to the boardroom
  • Regulatory and reimbursement uncertainty

Organizations are leveraging human resources in intriguing and novel ways to align with new healthcare structures and increased financial pressures. In addition, hospital executives are making creative leadership decisions to support leadership development for success for emerging nurse leaders with limited leadership and management expertise.

A Contemporary Interim Leadership Approach to Internal Nurse Leader Career Progression


In response to healthcare market dynamics, leaders of health systems are embracing the opportunity to identify opportunities for internal career progression for nurse leaders. KBA supports internal nurse leader progression by connecting an interim nurse leader with the experience and education necessary to prepare and optimize  leadership development. 

The KBA Interim CNO and Nurse Leader Advisor Model delivers sustainable results, optimizes the experience, and provides  return-on-investment (ROI) for the organization. The KBA model encompasses the  client organization Mission and Initiatives, AONL Nurse Leader Competencies, and a KBA Nurse Executive Advisor with defined experience and education.

The KBA Nurse Leader Advisor methodology of learning offers an onsite-and virtual structured side-by-side approach. The Nurse Leader Advisor model focuses on strengthening communication, relationship management, business knowledge and skills, and professional leadership acumen to influence, guide, and direct nursing practice resulting in optimal delivery of safe patient care.

Benefits of a Contemporary Interim Leadership Approach for Internal Nurse Leader Career Progression:

  • Hands-on learning with real-time feedback – working together side-by-side
  • Comprehensive evaluation based on  AONE Nurse Executive Competencies
  • Achievement of specific goals with desired results
  • Role modeling
  • Intensive leadership skills development
  • Structured progress assessments
  • Predetermined period of learning

Sparking Growth Through Innovation


Healthcare is a multidisciplinary practice that demands coordination of care among different professions, and provider types. Immersing emerging executives into a hands-on learning environment inspires the executive to model the skills, real-life experience and acumen demonstrated by the seasoned interim leader.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”


Rapidly Evolving Healthcare Environment


The nursing leadership landscape is evolving, however, the core components that shape and motivate  nurse leaders remains the same—passion for excellence and the mission to provide quality patient care. Some emerging executives will naturally adopt an effective leadership style, while others may struggle with the application—this is where the Contemporary Interim CNO Advisor Model can have the most impact. 

Highly experienced and skilled interim leaders are valuable assets that can assure a smooth transition and support the development of a successful nurse leader to:

  • Fuse leadership gaps
  • Keep the organizational agenda on track
  • Boost confidence of other stakeholders and leaders
  • Avoid costs of a failed hire and re-recruitment

Complexity of Hiring Inexperienced CNOs


Emerging nurse leaders may demonstrate strong promise, however, have limited leadership experience and skill sets. Research conducted by Montana State University, published by Health Affairs, indicates that millennials are entering the nursing workforce at double the rate of their baby boomer counterparts—increasing the pool of inexperienced nursing leaders. As the pipeline of experienced nurse leaders wanes and legacy leaders retire, hospital executive leaders are becoming concerned with replacing these critical resources.

Hospital systems are concerned for a number of reasons. Emerging nurse leaders who are preparing to be first-time CNOs may have only narrow experiences to draw from in important areas:

  • Cross-service line leadership  
  • Budgeting and forecasting skills
  • Organizational structure variety
  • Geographies
  • Sites of care 

Success Story Worth Emulating


Position: CNEO

Type of Facility: Hospital system on the west coast

The organization enlisted the support of Kirby Bates to refine the skills of their promising, but fledgling CNEO. Kirby Bates’ accomplished interim leader worked quickly to strategically develop the CNEO—providing real-time feedback to foster authentic understanding and application of crucial leadership skills. 

Kirby Bates’ Interim Leader’s Impact:

Kirby Bates’ interim leaders provided a fresh approach and perspective unencumbered by existing culture and constraints. Interim leaders in this situation serve as a role model demonstrating the professional and organizational benefit that a senior nurse executive provides by positively impacting patient care and staff engagement. 

Based on the comprehensive assessment of the CNEO by the interim leader, the interim leader established and implemented specific plans to address opportunities for improvement within each of the six domains:

  1. Effective communication
  2. Relationship building
  3. Knowledge of healthcare environment
  4. Leadership
  5. Professionalism
  6. Business skills

In this engagement, the interim leader successfully guided the CNEO to achieve measurable and meaningful proficiency in leadership competencies. 

Nurse Leadership Development Results:

  • Refined verbal communication
  • Increased trust among leadership team
  • Restructured role to support the work of nursing practice
  • Increased knowledge of economic metrics
  • Prioritized the key quality initiatives for the organization
  • Redesigned shared governance model
  • Improved work-life balance

Driven by Passion and the Mission


Nursing leaders must draw from their experiences and rely on their abilities to successfully navigate the complex tapestry of interrelationships in order to overcome leadership challenges. At Kirby Bates, our experience as healthcare executives uniquely qualifies us to achieve sustainable outcomes for healthcare organizations’ greatest leadership challenges. 

Our adept interim leaders have successfully supported the on-boarding and assimilation of many permanent internal candidates—helping the executive to conquer operational and environmental challenges during the transition. For more than 30 years, we’ve assisted hundreds of prestigious organizations across the country to develop exceptional leadership teams.

Want to learn even more about interim leadership? For deeper insights into the education, qualifications and motivations of interim nursing leaders, contact the Kirby Bates Associates team of experts today!