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New tools for governance: Kit identifies core competencies boards need to drive success and ways to develop them.


Board work will get more complex and sophisticated as health care reform unfolds, demanding new competencies of hospital trustees, executives and physician leaders. Competence and the culture that supports it have the capacity to drive behavior and performance that can either reinforce or thwart success. The competence of boards and leaders and the organizational culture they create are key factors that will differentiate high-performing organizations.

In February 2009, the American Hospital Association's Blue Ribbon Panel on Trustee Core Competencies issued a report that recommended two sets of core competencies for board members preparing to lake on the challenges now facing hospitals and health systems. The panel's recommendations were grounded in work done by the National Center for Healthcare leadership and other nonprofit and for-profit organizations that had identified governance and leadership competencies that positively influence both individual and organizational performance.

The first set included three Knowledge and Skills Competencies in the areas of Health Care Performance and Delivery, Business and Finance, and Human Resources. The second set of competencies identified 14 personal capabilities, including strategic orientation, change leadership, managing complexity and innovative thinking, that influence individual effectiveness and can contribute to the performance of the board as a whole.

Because health care boards are in the early stages of incorporating competencies into their work, the panel recommended development of tools and other resources to help boards create a foundation for competency-based governance. With ongoing funding support from Hospira, a work group of health care organization trustees, executives and governance and leadership experts developed four sets of tools to help boards apply competencies to trustee recruitment and selection, board member orientation and education, trustee performance assessment and board leadership development and succession planning.

The Competency-Based Governance Tool Kit includes an interview guide to help boards identify behaviors associated with trustee core competencies, as well as a competency-based trustee position description and recruiting guideline. The kit also includes a model for incorporating competencies into trustee orientation and a mentoring process and a checklist to create opportunities for competency development through peer-to-peer interaction. A series of tools for competency-based trustee performance evaluation includes peer assessment surveys, a sample personal development plan and reporting that provides performance feedback for individual trustees and a competency profile of the board as a whole. The tool kit also includes a structured process and tools for applying competencies to leadership development and succession planning.

Testing and evaluation of the tools by hospital and health system boards will be completed in September. The tools will be available from the AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance in printed and electronic formats later this year. For a copy of the report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Trustee Core Competencies and for more information on the Competency-Based Governance Tool Kit, visit the Center's website at


John R. Combes, M.D., is President and COO of AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance.

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Title Annotation:Out Box
Comment:New tools for governance: Kit identifies core competencies boards need to drive success and ways to develop them.(Out Box)
Author:Combes, John R.
Publication:H&HN Hospitals & Health Networks
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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