Hospitals celebrate success in integrating leadership competencies

Recognizing that most leaders are made, not born, two Greater Toronto Area (GTA) hospitals, Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) and Lakeridge Health, have woven leadership development into the fabric of their organizations.
Working together, the hospitals scouted for a solid platform on which to base their joint leadership development program to develop current and future leaders, and they found that platform at the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA).

In November 2004, Darrell Sewell was appointed the Joint Vice President, Human Resources of both Lakeridge Health and Rouge Valley. At the time, there was a clear emphasis in both organizations on improving leadership development. “Who are the future executives of the hospitals?” and “How are we going to help them get there?” were just two of the questions being asked around the Senior Management and Board of Directors’ tables of both hospitals. Then, in 2005, they created a Joint HR Services Portfolio, focusing on developing leaders and giving employees the tools needed to grow into future leaders.

Optimizing health human resources is a key strategic direction for the OHA and in 2008, they partnered with Hay Group to develop competency models for CEOs, Executives, Directors, Managers, and Supervisors in order to lay the foundation for an integrated talent management strategy. The OHA competency models define the behavioral competencies that drive successful performance in health care leaders.

Building on the OHA’s leadership competencies, and related talent management tools, RVHS and Lakeridge Health developed and implemented the Advanced Leadership Foundations Program (ALF) to assess, train, develop, and recognize both their existing and new leaders. The results of the ALF and the improvement of staff engagement levels have been phenomenal.
The foundation of their curriculum was based on the OHA’s 12 Leadership Behavioral competencies that really reflect how leaders do their work.

Day-to-day operational management was an area of significant importance to both organizations, so they expanded the program to include 12 (Lakeridge Health) and 14 (RVHS) key management (or technical) competencies, that were perceived as critical to the success of a manager in the health care system and aimed at improving their leadership capacity.

The ALF kick-off session targeted approximately 300 managers, with two competency modules offered each month (one OHA leadership, one management). Work continues on ALF to refine, further develop and introduce new modules that will continue to provide learning opportunities for those who have graduated.

“The Advanced Leadership Foundations Program was focused on both the values portion of what people bring to the table (how they do their job), in addition to their performance (what do they achieve).  We wanted to instill these competencies in our leaders, and thanks to the OHA leadership competency models, and the great working relationship between the two hospitals, we really made the program come together”, explains Darrell Sewell.
Wanda Leach, Director HR, Lakeridge Health and Kathy Gooding, Vice President HR, Rouge Valley, brought the two teams together during the development and implementation phases of the project. “We had a huge task ahead of us to get all the material developed.  We worked together with our Organizational Learning Consultants to develop the curriculum and facilitate the delivery of the sessions,” says Leach.

Staff at both hospitals were able to participate in sessions at either organization, making it easy to build the 24 modules and sessions into their schedules. Both senior teams agreed that participation would be mandatory for all leaders.
At the end of each session, the team requested formalized feedback from each of the participants, allowing them to tweak and mold each session based on what worked and what didn’t. It also allowed the teams to rate the leaders both pre and post course to see if a shift in leadership and employee engagement across the organization was being made.

Additionally, once participants completed all the modules, a survey was sent with a number of questions asking how the learnings were being integrated into their leadership styles and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
“It was clear from the feedback that the leaders really appreciated that the hospital had invested so much time and effort into the development of this program.  The survey told a really good story,” notes Leach.

“The amount of work involved and the time that was required was really a full-time commitment. The quality of the end product was very high considering the time, and budget that the hospitals had to work with. It has been an intense development process,” says Gooding.

The key to the success of the project was the commitment and support from the senior teams and the members of the ALF development team who steadfastly dedicated their time and resources to getting the job done.

“We are also working on implementing the OHA Leadership behavioral competencies into our performance management strategy. Since 2008, Lakeridge Health and RVHS have been utilizing Halogen’s Software’s e-Appraisal system. Both are a critical part of the evaluation process for succession planning. We are also building the competencies into the new job descriptions,” explains Randy Fallis, Joint Director, Corporate HR Services for Lakeridge Health and RVHS.

For further information on this initiative, contact Kathy Gooding, VP Human Resources, Rouge Valley Health System at 416-281-7385 or or Communications, Lakeridge Health at 905-576-8711, ext. 4317 or
For further information on other leadership development products offered by the OHA, visit, or contact Gary Lucas, Director, Provincial Health Human Resources Research and Planning at 416-205-1588 or

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