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Co-CEO leadership—Does it work in health care? A story of success. 



Trey, B., McHenry, I., & Lavorgna, S. (2024). Co-CEO leadership—Does it work in health care? A story of success. Psychology of Leaders and Leadership. Advance online publication.


A co–chief executive officer (co-CEO) leadership structure is rare (Arena et al., 2011; Dennis et al., 2009; Feigen et al., 2022), and a successful one is even more unique. This case study presents the elements of and process contributing to a successful leadership dyad: the co-CEOs of Cooper University Health System (Cooper), a leading academic health system in New Jersey. Health care systems have begun to encourage coleadership between clinical and administrative leaders but are challenged to ensure their productivity. This story of success describes the methodology we applied at the inception of Cooper’s co-CEO journey which supported the co-CEOs in developing a strong and productive leadership partnership. We adapted a short-term method from couples counseling to be used in business that strengthens the leadership of executive partnerships called “Productive Pairs.” This set the foundation for a highly functional coleadership model that has continued through and after the COVID-19 pandemic and is praised by the health system’s executive leadership team. Under the leadership of this dynamic co-CEO dyad, the health care system has prospered and been recognized clinically. And, in a time when many academic health systems are suffering financially, Cooper has achieved their highest bond rating. One foundational feature contributing to this success is that the pair structured their co-CEO model appropriately. The essential ingredients of the Productive Pair model used by the Cooper co-CEOs are role clarity, decision-making clarity, and effective communication leading to trust and transparency. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved)

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The Authors

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Founder & CEO

Beulah Trey, PhD

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Senior Executive Coach

Irene McHenry, PhD


Associate Consultant

Stephanie Lavorgna, MS, SHRM-CP

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