St. Joseph’s Health Centre’s Leadership Development Program gives leaders the tools they need for success

The Leadership Development Program at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto, enables our management team to enhance their leadership capabilities and competencies and gives them the tools they need to be successful in their roles. Providing this important program to our leaders and dedicated time to pursue professional development activities is an investment that supports our Vision to be Canada’s Best Community Teaching Hospital.  To date, 42 management members have graduated from the program and the next cohort is set to graduate this spring.

Elizabeth McLaney, Director of Interprofessional Education and Collaboration, explains that it was important for the organization to have a specialized program that was unique to St. Joe’s. Launched in 2009, a key aim of the program was to create a common language for talking about leadership. “Historically, staff would go to external leadership development courses or workshops because we didn’t have a comprehensive and sustained approach to leadership development on site,” she said. “So part of the strategy (in developing our program) was adopting a framework and model that we could use at St. Joe’s. In our case, the program is based on Kouzes & Pozner’s, The Leadership Challenge.”

“Our program is a way to bring our leaders together – both in learning the content of the curriculum and in growing and developing their relationships as members of the leadership team,” explains McLaney. “Attendees often comment on the fact that the program allows them to get know people that they would not often work with, which makes it easier to connect when they do have shared tasks.”

The program provides education on five key leadership practices that successful leaders use everyday:

–          Model the Way – ensuring that leaders “walk the talk” and model the behaviours and attitudes they would like to see in their own staff

–          Inspire a Shared Vision – challenging individuals to think about their higher level vision by imagining possibilities and finding common purpose

–          Challenge the Process – seeking opportunities, experimenting, taking risks, and learning from experience

–          Enable Others to Act – fostering collaboration and strengthening others

–          Encourage the Heart – recognizing people on a day to day basis and celebrating accomplishments

(Kouzes & Posner, 2012)

Through the program’s four main components – a 360 leadership appraisal, personalized coaching sessions with an individual learning plan, interactive classroom learning/workshops and an experiential learning leadership project – participants are able to examine the behaviours that leaders utilize as the foundation to leadership and explore the current context and opportunities for leadership in health care today. The program is also complimentary to the Health Centre’s leadership performance appraisal process, with the leadership competencies that management is evaluated on being aligned with the program’s five practices.

Another distinctive aspect to the program is that it provides the opportunity to leverage and meld both internal and external expertise.

“Some portions of the program are presented by external facilitators while others are led by leaders from within the organization. The Quality & Performance Excellence portfolio, for example, teaches about project management from a quality improvement perspective; and our Executive Vice President of Clinical Programs and Chief Nursing Executive teaches about Accountability and Execution,” said McLaney, who supports the recruitment and development of the internal content experts and also presents some of the teaching components.

“There is also a component of the program which talks about leadership in a Mission-based organization, and that is presented by our CEO,” said McLaney. “Our management team wouldn’t be able to get that through a program offered elsewhere. Participants have said over and over again that this is an aspect of the program that is much appreciated, because it gives them a different connection – especially with senior leaders – and it helps to humanize the experience of leadership. It is also a unique opportunity for senior leaders to model the lesson that leadership is a process of growth, and that leadership learning happens on an ongoing basis.”

“Part of my role is to build a culture of collaboration, so I teach about stakeholder engagement and influencing with integrity. Throughout the seven months of the program I work to keep the spirit of leadership top of mind by doing things like holding check in meetings with the participants and circulating relevant literature that builds on the themes addressed in the program,” she said.

Ann-Marie Marcolin, Manager of Patient, Family and Community Engagement, graduated from the program in 2011. “Participating in St. Joseph’s Leadership Program afforded me a wealth of both professional and personal learning opportunities,” she said. “Being given organizational support to carve out dedicated time to reflect, discuss and learn about the art of leadership is an invaluable gift that I am most grateful to have been given.”

The Leadership Development Program at St. Joe’s builds on our commitment to Inspire our People. “We know that leadership development is an important part of being a learning organization,” says McLaney. “By creating a venue for people to expand their capacity and learn together we know that we will be best equipped to adapt to the changing landscape of health care and to support learning by staff at all levels.”