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Leadership Program Drives Increased Retention and Promotion Rates at Healthcare System

“We have retained 92% of our physicians and executives who have been a part of the program for the last two years and promoted 71%.”

—Catherine Calvin,
Group Director, Talent Management

Centura Health, a healthcare system that serves over a half a million people each year across Colorado and western Kansas, believed it was important to invest in leadership development for their physicians as they took on positions of greater responsibility and leadership.

They had a shortage of physicians in administrator roles, resulting in a siloed culture that held opportunity for greater efficiencies throughout the organization. The senior leadership team also recognized that they had a chance to more fully engage both physicians and administrators in driving critical strategic initiatives forward in order to improve patient care, create a best-in-class healthcare system and develop their best talent.

In 2014, Centura Health partnered with Linkage to design and implement a comprehensive leadership development experience that would equip their leaders with the skills to be efficient, effective and innovative in leading critical strategic healthcare initiatives moving forward.

The nine-month program is known as the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP). It is now in its third year and leaders from across 17 hospitals have successfully completed this journey. The program was initially focused on physician leader development. However, after the first year, it became apparent that there was an appetite for learning, best practice sharing, and networking between the physicians and administrators. So, when the program kicked off for a second year in 2015, participants included a blend of both groups, which ultimately helped accomplish these objectives, creating an even more fulfilling experience and a unified team with a shared vision for the future.

Measurable Change, Real Impact

In order to have lasting impact on the business, the Centura Health team needed a learning approach that was aligned with their core organizational values. They also recognized this as an opportunity to empower participants to drive measurable change through action learning projects. For many of the physicians in the group, this was their first time participating in any type of leadership development.

The process kicked off with Linkage’s 360° Leadership Assessment Instrument™, a tool that measures ratings from an individual’s peers, direct reports and managers, in addition to self-ratings, over six critical skills and five competencies necessary for excellence in leadership.

Participants then attended Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development® (GILD), where they experienced large group sessions featuring world-class leaders and educators. Equipped with new insights and inspiration, they met as a team while on-site at GILD to begin to process how to apply this knowledge in their roles. Each participant was also paired with an executive from Centura Health, who served as their mentor.

“Linkage's program has certainly made me a better leader but more importantly, a better person!”

—Lonnie Cramer,
Chief Operating Officer, Penrose Hospital, Colorado Springs, CO

Action Learning Ignites Change

This experience helped set the stage for identifying the action learning projects, which would ultimately demonstrate measurable impact on the business. It also provided an accelerated leadership development opportunity for two critically important groups and an appetite for exchanging ideas, thus creating new opportunities for collaboration and best practice sharing.

Participants were divided into two action learning teams, each of which focused on creating the business case for driving improvement to provide industry-leading patient care. One team focused on how to improve network integrity—namely how to keep doctor referrals within the Centura Health network. The other team focused on how to reduce clinical variation by creating a more consistent patient experience across multiple remote locations.

In the second year of the program, the teams focused on reducing associate injuries and launching virtual care to better treat patients with polychronic diseases. Following GILD, the ELDP participants joined previous GILD graduates throughout Centura Health to process their learning, share “ah-ha” moments and kick off their ELDP cohort series of seven monthly, one-day, skill-building sessions. Each session focused on a skill or competency core to helping leaders excel at Centura Health and drive future growth.

In addition to reflection and skill-building, the workshops provided time for participants to collaborate on their action learning projects, network, exchange ideas and reflect. Members of the senior executive team took turns attending the workshops, each leading a discussion on how a topic applied within the context of the Centura Health environment.

At the culmination of the nine-month period, the action learning teams made presentations to the executive team, summarizing their achievements and outlining plans for the future.

Turning Insights Into Action

“This effort helped create a groundswell of transformational leadership at Centura,” says Catherine Calvin, Group Director, Talent Management. The list of participants has grown to 36 system-wide with a 92% retention rate over the past three years. In addition, 71% have either expanded their roles or been promoted.

Physicians and administrators from various hospitals within the system have built trusted relationships with one another, which has resulted in routine collaboration and real-time problem solving.

Centura Health is now better equipped to be more effective in leveraging their top leadership roles. They are actively engaged with their teams who are now hands-on leaders, with an understanding of the challenges and critical areas to address in creating a best-in- class healthcare system.