Gaining Commitment for a Leadership Development Strategy

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Houston Methodist is a leading academic medical center in the Texas Medical Center with six community hospitals serving the Greater Houston area. Comprising of 21,000 committed personnel and growing, Houston Methodist, a faith based nonprofit healthcare system has a strong culture built on the I CARE values of integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and excellence. Its strategic goal is to optimize talent management to prepare for Houston Methodist’s second century, poising the organization to achieve unparalleled patient safety, quality, service and innovation. Its message: succession planning helps us achieve that goal, it is not the goal itself! 

Creating a compelling business case to move from replacement planning to succession planning included honoring what was in place: a benchmark-worthy culture and strong executive leadership commitment to development. Then, Houston Methodist identified talent opportunities to provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  

Connecting the Dots

In 2016, Houston Methodist set to connect the dots for executive leadership by illustrating the “why” of talent development. Acknowledging a leader in healthcare is a 24/7/365 vocation, the organization methodically established a leadership philosophy unique to Houston Methodist. A philosophy fills in the grey spaces and provides aspirational intent for change. To ensure relevance we solicited participation from key stakeholders representing our organization’s critical characteristics: nonprofit, healthcare, faith-based, and ICARE core value system. 

Clarifying Expectations

In parallel, Houston Methodist revisited our leadership competence model originally launched in 2010. The timing was appropriate, as the Houston market was feeling the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They also fueled the evolution of its leadership competence model with evidence from multiple data sources, such as employee engagement surveys, patient satisfaction surveys, stay and exit interviews, and so forth. Competencies like teamwork, problem solving, and accountability were also added to the mix.  


Explaining the How 

Talent leaders explained the “how” to staff with a one-page strategic theme document that included: 

  • a short, strategic overview statement 
  • three strategic goals 
  • what Houston Methodist would accomplish in 2016 
  • what Houston Methodist would accomplish in 2017 
  • necessary executive support 
  • metrics. 

In late 2016, Houston Methodist launched a corporate university with role specific “developmental pathways,” which honors the existing culture of “Patient Care Pathways.” Developmental pathways is a 10-week highly interactive cohort experience. The Houston Methodist Academy of Leadership & Learning provides a talent development infrastructure for change management, especially for early adopters to direct their enthusiasm. 

Gaining Buy In

Take every opportunity to use meetings as a coachable moment with your highest ranking and operational champion of each department, division, or enterprise. Have your data at the ready—even just a simple plan and timeline. Depending on your organization, we recommend partnering with human resource directors, human resource business partners, organizational development consultants, and recruiting or continuous improvement leaders to build significant ground swell. 

Moving Forward

Want to learn more? Join Christina and William Rothwell on January 13 for the ATD Webcast, Assess and Develop Potential Talent On Succession Planning.

About the Author
Christina Barss is the corporate director of leadership and learning at Houston Methodist Hospital System. She has extensive global experience, and has coached and developed senior and C-suite healthcare executives; her resume includes spearheading innovative international executive education programs for Cleveland Clinic Health System. Christina’s holistic approach leverages her lean Six Sigma black belt skill set with an academic approach. She believes in building enterprise capability that truly sustains organizational transformation, and requires an executable and measurable plan including both business systems redesign and executive leadership development. A credentialed researcher at multiple institutions, Christina is exploring the concepts of authentic and inspirational leadership. She also presents on operationalizing empathy to improve patient safety and satisfaction as well as employee engagement and innovation. Christina has a PhD from Case Western Reserve University in management, a master of science in strategic leadership from New England College, a master of education in instructional design technology from American Intercontinental University, and a bachelor of science in organizational management from Daniel Webster College
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