How 4 top health systems approach leadership development

Developing leaders from within a health system can serve the system on several fronts. It can cut back on hiring costs and funnel employees into long, fruitful careers. Providing growth opportunities shows staff they are valued and equips them with the tools they need to be successful — which in turn improves retention and satisfaction, top leadership development organizations told Becker’s

Each year, the National Center for Healthcare Leadership acknowledges hospitals and health systems with exceptional leadership development initiatives. Candidates are judged on 12 metrics, from “talent management and succession planning” to “providing performance feedback” to “preparing new leaders for success.” 

Here are the strategies four of this year’s “Best Organizations for Leadership Development” use to transform the employees of today into the C-suite of tomorrow. 

Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare 

The Intermountain Healthcare Leadership Institute focuses on “mid-career, experienced and well-regarded health system leaders,” according to Bruce Jensen, its director of business development. Leaders from the U.S. and abroad come together for interactive simulations, discussions, case studies, small-group problem solving and personal assessments. 

The institute’s faculty members hail from renowned business schools, like Harvard University and Stanford University, as well as Intermountain’s own leadership team. 

“Intermountain’s leadership institute focuses on timeless leadership principles to enhance the critical competency of leadership itself,” according to Mr. Jensen. 

This spring’s session will be offered virtually, with two-hour sessions occurring weekly and extra sessions during the opening and closing weeks. A hybrid format will return in the fall. 

Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth 

UCHealth’s approach to leadership development is trifold, according to Vice President of Organizational Development Matthew Gosney, EdD. 

The first initiative, “employee voice,” drives tangible leadership action and accountability through survey results. Staff members and leaders engage in “stay interviews,” one-on-one conversations that address individual satisfaction while building departmental culture. Finally, leaders host “career conversations” to connect with their staff members in a “forward-looking professional management process,” with the aim of achieving professional growth. 

“While the human resources team at UCHealth was already doing work in these areas, the pandemic accelerated the work, as many staff are looking to move beyond the last three years and have an increased need for personal connection and renewed commitment to contribute to work that is meaningful,” Dr. Gosney said. 

The Houston-based University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 

MD Anderson Cancer Center’s leadership institute offers many services: change enablement counseling, assessment tools, and personal and team-based curriculums. But it has seen evidence-based success with coaching, according to Clayton Boldt, PhD, the center’s public relations program director. This coaching can take different formats, depending on the leader or group’s specific needs. 

“Unlike mentoring, which can provide advice and guidance, coaching is designed to empower a leader to optimize their own effectiveness,” Dr. Boldt said. “With a certified coach, our leaders work to develop clarity of purpose and focus on particular actions or adjustments needed to ensure their success.” 

Evidence suggests that coaching is improving retention, according to Dr. Boldt. Employees who received coaching had a 50 percent lower turnover rate compared to those who did not. Additionally, the center found a 37 percent increase in new publications and 102 percent increase in clinical trials activated for those who were coached relative to those who were not. 

Cleveland Clinic 

Cleveland Clinic’s Mandel Institute provides more than 66,000 caregivers with online and classroom leadership development opportunities. And its curriculum covers a broad spectrum of competencies, according to Gina Cronin, its chief talent development officer. 

“Our work in professional development encompasses both aspiring leaders and current leaders to grow their capabilities in being agile, resilient and focused,” Ms. Cronin said. “This includes honing and enhancing their skills in communication, flexibility, emotional intelligence and accountability.”

A personalized training was developed in 2022 to provide flexible learning, according to Ms. Cronin. A cohort approach is also offered to allow for connection with colleagues and coaches.

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