Friday, July 30, 2010

Working together to create leaders in health care

Advanced Leadership Foundations (ALF)
The ALF acronym is a catchy one, which many were quick to liken to the 1980s TV show. But there’s nothing alien about ALF to the management teams of Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) and Lakeridge Health (LH), who have jointly rolled out the program. ALF team members, from left, are: Bill Hamilton, learning consultant, RVHS; Kathy Gooding, director, human resources, RVHS; Wanda Leach, director, human resources, LH; Darrell Sewell, joint vice-president, human resources; plus the ALF stuffies! (Absent are: Rahim Moledina, learning consultant, RVHS; Petra Bingley, learning consultant, LH; and Marguerite O’Neal, learning consultant, LH.)
Blog by Darrell Sewell
Joint Vice-President, Human Resources
Rouge Valley Health System and Lakeridge Health

Great leadership is not about any one outstanding individual. After all, how could leadership happen if there were only one person? Rather, leadership is defined by the act of working with others.

Bearing that in mind, it seems quite fitting that Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) and Lakeridge Health (LH) have been delivering a comprehensive leadership training program to our management teams by doing just that—working together. Now at the mid-way point of the program, we can’t help but step back and take a celebratory look at what we have collectively achieved.

In January 2010, our two hospitals jointly launched the Advanced Leadership Foundations (ALF) program. This program was designed to help our over 250 managers build a strong foundation of leadership skills and to keep them on the cutting edge of leadership fundamentals within Ontario health care.

The ALF program is based on a set of 12 leadership competencies established by the Ontario Hospital Association’s Leadership Development Institute, in collaboration with the Hay Group. These competencies define the skill sets and qualities that all health care leaders in the province should have. Building on the 12 leadership competencies, RVHS and LH developed an additional 12 management competencies focused on operational knowledge. And all twenty-four competencies were the basis for the creation of the training modules that make up ALF.

Between January and June 2010 we have delivered 12 training modules—six leadership and six management competency modules. Delivering two modules per month, we started off in January with Visionary Leadership (leadership competency) and Role of the Manager (management competency) and we recently wrapped up the first half of the program in June with Business Acumen (leadership competency) and Managing Finances (management competency).

We could not have gotten this far without three important groups. First, there’s the team of staff who worked so diligently to build the curriculum for the program and coordinate its delivery. As joint vice-president of human resources for both RVHS and LH it has been an absolute pleasure to guide this initiative and participate with the following ALF Team members who have been key in putting ALF into action:

• Kathy Gooding, director, human resource, RVHS
• Rahim Moledina, learning consultant, RVHS
• Bill Hamilton, learning and media consultant, RVHS
• Wanda Leach, director, human resource, Lakeridge Health
• Marguerite O’Neal, learning consultant, Lakeridge Health
• Petra Bingley, learning and media consultant, Lakeridge Health

The second group that has been instrumental in the success of ALF is the guest presenters who have been responsible for delivering some of the core training. This group of professionals—from administrative areas of both hospitals (i.e. CEOs; human resource; finance; labour relations; occupational health, safety & wellness; decision support)—has worked closely with the ALF Team members to provide training on their particular areas of expertise. They have done an exceptional job, and we wish to thank them for their commitment to ALF and our management teams.

Finally, we need to congratulate all of the management staff, who have participated in the first six months of the program. ALF is a mandatory program for management staff and leaders, and we are happy that everyone is making the time to take part. Thank you for your commitment to your hospital, the work you do, and ultimately, to the patients we care for.

This has been an extraordinary experience for everyone involved, and it is a true success story for Rouge Valley and Lakeridge Health. The development and rollout of ALF reflects leadership at its best. It demonstrates what can be accomplished when two hospitals take the initiative to come together and make something happen. We were not discouraged by a limited budget. Rather, we used our resources wisely, and took advantage of some or most valuables assets: our expertise, our innovation, and our teamwork.

The result has been a top-quality product, which is unique in many ways. With 12 leadership modules and another 12 management modules, ALF has certainly got to be one of the most robust leadership training programs delivered within hospitals in Ontario. Matching this comprehensiveness is the program’s intensiveness. In six months, we delivered 12 training modules to more than 250 managers across two large community hospitals.

And of course, by delivering the program jointly, we have afforded our managers with a number of opportunities to develop relationships with colleagues across the two hospitals. The training modules were offered at RVHS and Lakeridge sites in Scarborough, Ajax and Oshawa, allowing staff and presenters to learn together and from each other.

Another unique aspect of ALF is its evaluative component. At both hospitals, we have introduced Halogen Software systems to evaluate managers specifically on the leadership competencies introduced in ALF. This closes the loop on their training, and helps to ensure that managers are applying in their work what they have learned in ALF.

It has truly been a thrilling start to this program. During the summer, we have taken a pause, but ALF will get going again in the fall. Between September and March, we will complete the program with the remaining 12 competency modules. I am looking forward to the second half of this program. In fact, we have a really exciting kick off planned for September, so stay tuned!

This kind of learning isn’t just about building leaders for our two hospitals. We are creating leaders for our future health care system, and you can’t help but to want to be a part of that.