Strengthening clinical and operational leadership and partnerships in an academic Medical center
Joy W. Goldman RN, MS, PCC: CEO
Cliff Kayser, MS, PCC: CSO
SixSEED Partners (SSP) was invited to work with a 789-bed, academic medical center located in a major metropolitan area. We were asked to design a program that would improve the partnering between operational leaders: the Security Department and a clinical department: Shock Trauma leaders, in service to improving staff and patient care when dealing with high profile trauma patients. These patients posed challenges to these departments due to the crowd control often necessary with police gunshot victims and the support of political leaders.
After interviewing both department Senior Vice-Presidents and hearing their shared vision, SSP proposed a six-month engagement where we would combine expanding thinking capacity to better lead through complex and volatile situations with action learning and forced pairing to strengthen trust through mutual accountability. We wanted to be able to measure impact on a qualitative and quantitative basis and we wanted to strengthen the system so that each leader was doing work at the level that matched their position in the organization. Applying our Leadership Ecosystem Capacitation (LEC) model, we wanted to impact individual, team and system-level change to ensure sustainable impact. Complicating this work was the fact that all of our work would be done within the context of the Covid-19 global pandemic; mass vaccination campaigns; and the nation’s crisis of systemic racism.
Over the six-month period, we offered a combination of in-person and virtual sessions where we introduced polarity thinking and the SMALL process: seeing, mapping, assessing, learning and leveraging. The eight leaders were engaged in identifying their own pain points which were mapped to represent their reality. The two tensions measured were:
- Continuity & Transformation (what’s working now and what would we like to see differently in our partnership)
- Autonomous Outcomes & Integrated Outcomes: how well do we leverage the expertise of each department while integrating and combining our complementary strengths in service to the patient and our respective teams
In addition, we met with the Senior Vice Presidents on an every -other- week basis to provide support for them as they coached their leaders in doing this work. We wanted to help them identify their own tensions of Holding Responsible & Giving Freedom. As strong problem solvers, we wanted them to notice any tendency to want to rescue or persecute and help so they could best leverage this interdependent tension. We brought in to our work internal hospital resources like process improvement talent so they could map out a desired procedure (Standard Operating Procedure) for managing high profile patients which could then be codified and shared so the results were less dependent on certain staff and could be standardized across both operational and clinical areas.
Not previously mentioned but of significance for our work was the fact that the Security Department consisted of all Black leaders and the Shock Trauma leaders were all Caucasian. We found this important given the larger context of protests and beliefs around systemic racism. We acknowledged a theme of “being heard” and elevating voice within operations since clinical areas often received the spotlight as direct patient care providers.
Markers of success included:
- Seamless and coordinated management of a high -profile patient two months post the conclusion of our work
- One of the Security-Shock Trauma Leader dyads presented their work at the Leadership Forum for the flagship hospital and Mid-Town Campus with many accolades
- The Senior Vice-Presidents were able to offer numerous examples of mid-level director empowerment, including the presentation to them of a new Standard Operating Procedure created by the eight leaders
- Elimination of process delays and confusion as they created a “Tiger page” that now alerted all involved
- Improvement in all but two markers between the baseline and interim polarity assessment