3 reasons hospital CEOs get the ax

Early retirement packages and a difference in opinion on the vision for the organization are often the publicized reasons for hospital CEOs' departures. But in many cases, senior executive are actually fired, Christine Mackey-Ross, senior vice president at the healthcare executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, told Becker's Hospital Review.

But CEOs shouldn't despair. In fact, Mackey-Ross told the publication that many good leaders are fired at least once, and unless it's for fraudulent behavior, it's not a career-killer. "At senior levels, everybody knows those sorts of things happen: You were the right person [for the job] yesterday, but not today," she said.

Here are three common reasons why these senior execs get the boot:

They lose favor with the board: Differences in opinion, especially about the strategic direction of the organization will often lead to dismissal even among CEOs with long tenures. Organizations will often part ways due to disagreements about potential mergers or financial performance.

They raise the white flag: Sometimes CEOs will make the decision, especially if they feel unable to lead the organization based on budget cuts or the new vision for the organization.

They no longer have the skills necessary to lead the organization: Perhaps the CEO doesn't have the skill set that the board thinks is necessary for the hospital or healthcare system's new direction. In these instances, Mackey-Ross said the organization will often "stage" the departure, allowing the CEO to continue to work while the board searches for a replacement or appoints an interim CEO.

The search for the right CEO is often a difficult process. A personality that meshes with the board and the culture of the organization is essential. A recent study found that organizations should look for a leader that has moderate level of narcissism, FierceHealthcare previously reported. And those who fall on either side of the extreme--too much or too little ego--actually are poor leaders.

"What rates as average levels of ego and confidence at a hospital, for instance, might be very different than at a Wall Street bank," said Peter Harms, assistant professor of management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "A narcissist who's not very smart or hard-working is a disaster. But a narcissist who's really smart and really hard working could end up being someone brilliant like Steve Jobs."

To learn more:
- read the Becker's Hospital Review article

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