Just as the practice of medicine has changed significantly over the last decade (an example of which is the use of laparoscopy surgery vs. open incisions), leadership competencies have significantly changed for people who want to create excellent organizations. In fact, in the past, most leadership capabilities have been centered around courses included in a core curriculum in Masters of Health Care programs. However, recently most training organizations and accrediting bodies for health care leadership have come to understand that although these courses provide a foundation for necessary learning, they don’t necessarily create the core competencies that are required for leaders to reach the goals for excellence in their organizations which we have described in prior posts.
This knowledge must be combined with experience to create an integrated approach to developing competencies which we in CHRISTUS Health have clearly defined. Our 23 core competencies are listed below, and were based on what we as a senior team determined were the leadership skills necessary to reach benchmark practices in our four directions to excellence within the next three to five years in all parts of our international system.
Dealing with ambiguity
Timely decision making
Ethics and values
Hiring and staffing
Integrity and trust
Learning on the fly
Drive for results
Managing vision and purpose
To understand core competencies in a practical sense, I would use my own medical training as an example. In medical school, based on the traditional medical student curriculum, I was exposed to and learned the basics of anatomy (how the body is put together), physiology (how the body works) and pathology (how the body functions when it is broken). However, in order to become a competent surgeon, I needed to combine this knowledge as the basis for understanding and learning the surgical competencies that were required to perform and have positive outcomes in procedures as simple as a hernia repair and as complex as a whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer.
In specialty training, it would be unthinkable for anyone to believe that the curriculum-driven courses that we took in medical school would have been adequate to permit us to practice particularly interventional specialties following graduation. Therefore, for many years, specialty training had to be accrued through a residency program driven by clear evidence that you not only performed an adequate number of procedures, but that the mortality and morbidity levels associated with the procedures you performed were within an acceptable level.
The same principles now hold true for executive and administrative leaders in health care, and therefore not only do our leadership training programs have to embrace the core curriculum, but also the integrated core competencies and teach them to their maximum level in our graduate training programs as well as in our organizational development programs within CHRISTUS health. This is essential, because health care is so complex and is forever changing. A leader in health care today who does not commit to continuous core competency-driven lifelong learning should as quickly as possible transition out of the health care profession.