Developing Seconds-in Command to Leaders of the Future
It's never too early to identify and cultivate your next best leaders.
Publish Date: March 19, 2022
HCA Speakers
Amy W. Woods, DNP, Chief Nursing Officer (Left); Amy L. Williams, RN, BSN, CNOR, Director Surgical Services | LewisGale Hospital Montgomery (HCA)

Cultivate Success: Developing Leaders of the Future

Who will you pass the baton to when you move on? If you don’t already have a succession plan in place, now is the time to start identifying candidates and cultivating their skills to be successful leaders.

Creating a structured program for leadership development and succession planning has many advantages, according to Amy Woods and Amy Williams of HCA Healthcare. They are presenting Team BRAVO: Developing Seconds-in Command to Leaders of the Future at the Leadership Summit Saturday morning.

Reasons to establish a dedicated succession program include:

  • Improved engagement among high performers
  • Retention of top talent
  • More time to cultivate leadership skills
  • Faster onboarding process for leaders

How a Succession Program Works

HCA created the Team BRAVO program – named after the military’s way of communicating, “BRAVO is second in the alphabet, just like our second in commands,” says Williams.

Identifying potential is the first step in leadership planning. Team BRAVO pinpointed some initial qualifications of emerging leaders as being humble, hungry and smart.

Current nurse leaders are trained to look for these characteristics among their seconds-in-command. Often, they are stand-outs during monthly employee “rounding” sessions.


Once team members are identified to join Team BRAVO, they receive focused attention for their development, additional leadership responsibilities, and more administration involvement. They also get support with creating and reaching stretch goals, as well as mentoring.

Three highly engaged department directors lead Team BRAVO, including facilitating regular meetings and identifying growth opportunities for the participants.

Throughout the program, Team BRAVO participants focus on building executive presence and leader attributes, honing on:

  • Communication skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Relationship awareness
  • Self-awareness
  • Situational awareness

They also receive coaching in how to ask for and reflect on feedback.

Succession Program Outcomes

Team BRAVO’s learning, supportive culture creates an environment that allows the future leaders to build relationships across disciplines and appreciate functionality of other areas. They also practice the leadership skills they’ve cultivated during their time in the program. 

The investment in time and development of these individuals has led to improved bench strength and retention of top talent at HCA.

Woods and Williams will share more details about the Team BRAVO program including team agendas, checklists and structure information to help Leadership Summit colleagues create their own succession program and apply similar practices in their organizations.