7 ways hospitals build leadership development programs

As hospital CEO and administrator turnover reaches an all-time high, having a succession plan is more important than ever.

Lehigh Valley Health Network, an academic community hospital in Pennsylvania with five hospital campuses and almost 13,000 employees, created a two-year leadership program that focuses on teamwork, collaboration, and social and emotional intelligence. Presenters shared their strategies at the 2014 ACHE Congress in Chicago this week.

The key to identifying high-potential leaders is assessing emotional and organizational leadership competencies, planning for executive leadership development and measuring results, said Chief Operating Officer Terry Capuano, R.N.

To do that, hospitals must create leadership development opportunities from within. Lehigh Valley presenters said the seven steps to building a successful leadership education program include:

  1. Define a culture of leadership within the organization. Create an atmosphere that allows employees to dedicate time to their job and their passion, foster trust in each other and in leadership, and promote a collaborative, team-based atmosphere.

  2. Assess internal and external needs and spark an energy for change. Senior leadership and hospital executives must build a vision for the future based on what's happening in the organization now. It's essential for senior leaders to "buy in" and fully commit to the program's success.

  3. Align the desired changes with the culture of leadership. Promote interprofessional learning and collaboration within the organization, encourage emotional and organizational intelligence among staff and leaders, and engage employees to push for new and innovative ideas.

  4. Identify the high-potential talent pool. Determine your best candidates for future leaders by asking: What learning edge do they possess? What are some opportunities for their continued development? Have conversations with them about their vision for the future and nominate them to partake in leadership training.

  5. Develop and implement an integrated leadership curriculum. Create learning opportunities that focus on emotional and social self-awareness, self-management and relationship management, so future leaders can learn empathy, adaptability, conflict management and inspirational leadership techniques.

  6. Engage senior leaders so they are personally involved. Create mentorships and sponsorships between senior leaders and executives and leadership candidates.

  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership program. Conduct employee engagement surveys and all-around assessments of the program, as well as gauge leadership advancement after graduation. Of the approximately 160 clinical leaders who have participated in Lehigh Valley's leadership program, 75 percent of graduates moved up into more senior positions than when they started, Capuano said.

To learn more:
- here's ACHE's website

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