Leadership Illuminated by crisis: Characteristics of Effective Hospital CEOs

Open Access
Jones, Maureen Connelly
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 17, 2014
Committee Members:
  • William J Rothwell, Dissertation Advisor
  • Deirdre Mccaughey, Committee Member
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Christopher Alan Calkins, Special Member
  • Leadership
  • healthcare
  • CEOs
  • crisis leadership
  • selection
  • talent management
  • leadership characteristics
  • qualitative
Eight characteristic categories were identified after interviews with three health care CEOs and three of their senior leaders who lead through a tornado, hurricane, and nursing strike at three U.S. hospitals: Let Leaders Lead, Leverages Resources, Doing What’s Right, Crisis Adaptability, Partnering, Building Organizational Talent, Meaningful Visibility, and Strategic Foresight. These characteristics set the foundation to develop a theory of health care CEO competencies for leading in a crisis. Each leadership team, CEO and three senior subordinates, was asked to identify positive characteristics of the CEO as they lead through crisis. The case study protocol was crafted following Yin’s (2009) case study model and Charmaz’s (2006)analysis using strict coding process resulting in the identification of categories and then themes. Previous research in this area identify characteristics via self-report or through an analysis of secondary data. This study’s findings provide first hand, triangulated data of actual crises and how both the CEO and senior subordinates viewed the behaviors displayed by the CEO. This study fills a gap in current research and sets the stage for future studies that build toward a competency model for health care CEO leadership competencies. This study’s finding have applications for executive teams, executive search firms, hospital boards, human resource and organization development practitioners, and those aspiring to work in executive leadership. Attending to the characteristics identified in this research can help a hospital to find a leader who is a best fit, one that fulfills the individual organizational, as well as industry, needs for a health care CEO.