Level Up Your Leaders – A Conversation with Chartis

June 16, 2023
June 16, 2023

This blog is taken from a recent HealthStream webinar entitled “Level Up Your Leaders – A Conversation with Chartis.” The webinar was moderated by HealthStream’s Jaclyn Franklin and featured the following speakers:

  • Robyne Wilcox, Vice President of Quality and Compliance Solutions, HealthStream
  • Krista D. Stepney, MHA, Principal and Vice President of Operations, Chartis Just Health Collective
  • Portia Newman, PhD, Associate Vice President Education and Engagement, Chartis Just Health Collective

The process of shepherding leaders and leadership teams towards being the best version of themselves from a professional and organizational standpoint, and ultimately towards board-readiness can be a challenging one. In this webinar Chartis Just Health Collective defined the steps that are necessary to support personalized professional development and monitor leader performance.

Chartis Just Health Collective

Dr. Newman began with an overview of Chartis Just Health Collective.  Chartis offers expertise in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion and much more. Their goal is to help healthcare organizations accelerate health equity and belonging for all by helping healthcare organizations to translate their DEI aspirations into achievable, strategic, operational, clinical, programs and initiatives with strong strategic outcomes.

Leadership Competencies for Board Readiness

While there are many competencies that might be considered important for board-readiness, Dr. Newman identified the most critical ones. Among the most critical are:

  1. Self-awareness: Are leaders able to accurately assess the impact that they have on others? Are they able to manage their egos? Do they have the required emotional intelligence and are they engaging in the kinds of behaviors that make them more accessible to diverse perspectives?
  2. Industry depth – Do they understand the industry including current industry trends, best practices, and healthcare economics?
  3. Cultural agility – As there can be many different cultures within an organization, are leaders prepared to really engage and collaborate with multiple cultures and ultimately create an inclusive workplace for all.

The Importance of Equity and Inclusion in Leadership Training

Stepney addressed the importance of incorporating equity and inclusion into leadership training. In addition to bringing diverse perspectives to business issues, Stepney pointed to research that shows a relationship between equity and inclusivity training and a leader’s ability to foster innovation, creativity and better decision making. She also shared that equity and inclusion training helps create the kind of inclusive environment that is critical to fostering great relationships, building trust and psychological safety, and creating opportunities for employees to truly thrive.

Stepney also addressed the significance of the increase in consumerism in healthcare. “Embedding inclusivity and equity gives leaders a chance to understand what those market changes are and how to meet them,” said Stepney.

Strategies to Create Board-Ready Leaders Right Now

So, what steps should organizations take right now to begin to develop board-ready leaders? Dr. Newman explained that there is a growing expectation that boards will reflect and be responsive to the needs of the demographic groups in the communities being served. She went on to outline the phases that can help create board-ready leaders.

  1. Assessment – To best determine a path forward, Dr. Newman recommends an assessment to better understand the needs of the board, identify gaps in knowledge, and determine which competencies need to be strengthened or developed.
  2. Learning – Develop the appropriate education strategy to insure that the learning content is appropriate and to improve learning effectiveness.
  3. Sustainability – Helping leaders to translate what they are learning into a real pathway to board leadership.

She stressed the importance of not just meeting leaders where they are today, but having a long-term plan to help them get where they are going and continue to grow.

Barriers to Supporting and Mentoring Rising Leaders

Stepney shared the importance of moving beyond mentorship into sponsorship. Mentoring is important, but until leaders shift into a sponsorship role, they have not fully supported rising leaders. Stepney shared that true sponsorship is the next step after mentoring. It demonstrates that leaders are really sponsoring that rising leader to be board-ready when the next opportunity arises.

Sponsorship may also mean having some difficult, but critical conversations at the board level to address such issues as changes in nominating processes, creating opportunities for board members to meet rising leaders, and discussions about term limits.

The Must-Haves – Key Education Components

Referencing Jack Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory, Dr. Newman recommended focusing on three critical components.

  1. The first is the broad aspect of experience stemming from the emerging leaders’ environment and how they interpreted that experience.
  2. The second element is critical reflection. Encourage emerging leaders to think critically about their experiences and use them to transform the future of their work.
  3. The third element is rational discourse. This is what leads to what Mezirow describes as a disorienting dilemma as new experiences and reflection on those experiences leads to new perspectives. Dr. Newman encourages educators to provide a structure that will lead to that disorienting dilemma and the resulting new perspectives.

She also encouraged respect for adult learners by ensuring that the content is applicable and speaks to their needs as rising leaders. “Adult learners tend to do somewhat better when they are on a self-directed path,” said Dr. Newman.

Measuring and Monitoring Leadership Performance

Dr. Newman recommended that organizations begin the assessment process with their education initiatives including pre- and post-assessments as well as 30, 60, and 90 day assessments to help identify shifts in behavior. She encouraged healthcare organizations to ensure that the measurement process include senior leadership – an aspect of measurement that is often overlooked.

She also recommends building a robust 360 feedback approach that can inform accountability plans so that leaders can really hone in on those areas most in need of improvement. In addition, she recommended incorporating other metrics such as employee retention and engagement numbers to help build a more robust evaluation for leaders.

Where to Start?

Stepney recommends that efforts to level-up really should be built on a foundation of great strategy. She encouraged organizations to mine insights from their data to inform that strategy. Dr. Newman also encouraged leaders to incorporate assessments into initial efforts and use insights from both organizational data and assessments to identify the education that is necessary and appropriate. In addition, she encouraged leaders to think of the educational component as an ongoing process that can help contribute to building better connections, growth in accountability, and support for the advancement of leaders as they prepare to serve on boards.