The following story was described by Michael Stewart, Minneapolis-based managing director of talent management consultancy, Work Effects.
Client: A 10,000-employee hospital system.
Problem: The organization sustained a series of acquisitions and large-scale organizational changes, resulting in inconsistent strategy execution and disunity among the senior leadership team.
Cause: The merged and larger leadership team faced a new managing dynamic, and the individual leaders were not equipped to adapt their leadership styles. The organization faced internal conflict between networked hospitals, inefficient use of resources, strained union relations, and negative earnings.
Method/Tools: Stewart used a leadership competency model to diagnose the problems within the leadership team. The model prescribes that relationships plus roles and responsibilities equal results. Stewart conducted 360-degree assessments and one-on-one interviews with employees at multiple levels of the organization to measure leaders' relationship-building skills, responsibilities, and functions.
The quantitative assessment data combined with specific examples from the interviews helped the highly analytical leaders identify their individual leadership traits and behaviors as the root cause of the organization's issues.
For example, the leaders previously functioned in operating silos. They did not adapt to the new company structure, and so one hospital would compete with another hospital in the same system for doctors and patients. The leaders realized that functioning in their old roles was inhibiting the new organization. In addition, before the acquisitions, each leader could lead as he saw fit, but now the combined team had to account for each member's perspective. The leaders had not yet established trusting, flexible, and open relationships with each other, and the assessments revealed that many lacked the level of relationship-building skills to bridge that gap.
Diagnosis: By discovering the impact of their own traits on their peers and the organization, the leaders gained the desire to change. After learning the roles and responsibilities needed to thrive within the new organization, the team developed greater unity and focused on functioning as strategic leaders, rather than tactical managers.
The leaders grew to trust each other and use each other's areas of expertise for the organization's success. This resulted in greater collaboration between hospital locations, increased patient satisfaction, and reduced costs.