By Dr. Michael Gardam
Operational skills or technical expertise that served you well in non-leadership roles is often of little help when you first step into the complex world of the healthcare leader – managing conflicting priorities, negotiating challenging relationships and coping with seemingly endless healthcare system restructuring.
Navigating the system and being successful as a healthcare leader requires different perspectives, tools and approaches that are seldom part of traditional physician and healthcare administrator training. In a world where a leader rarely has all the answers, understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses, knowing how to build and engage effective teams, and cultivating effective relationships are keys to success.
The Schulich Executive Education Centre’s Healthcare Leadership Development Program (HLDP) was designed by healthcare professionals to answer those needs.
Through a combination of highly interactive classroom sessions, peer and executive coaching, and on-the-job practice, participants learn how to lead others to bring about positive change. Participants first learn about their own strengths and weaknesses, and learn the importance of inviting diverse, sometimes conflicting opinions into discussions, in order to generate novel and innovative solutions. Armed with new insights, participants are then encouraged to begin understanding healthcare as a complex adaptive system. Through this lens, the importance of building relationships to connect the various components of the system becomes clear. This process demands excellent communication skills as well as learning how to engage others in creative and unusual ways to unleash their creativity.
“I learned that ‘me [alone] as the leader’ wasn’t the answer. I had to form connections, build networks, and learn that building support was critical to any change initiative. I will never again just take on a change by myself!”
In a study of the first four years of this program, participants said it allowed them to have greater self-awareness and confidence in their leadership roles, and allowed them to begin to see and influence multiple levels of the healthcare system. The reviewers concluded that the program “appears to have been a life-changing experience for many of the participants.”
The Healthcare Leadership Development Program is delivered in a modular format, largely over weekends, so participants can avoid missing work time. It is open to current and future healthcare leaders from all professions. While the core content related to working within complex adaptive systems is integral and unique to our program, it has been continually updated since 2001 to address the changing needs of our participants. The program is also customizable should a client have a particular interest or focus in mind.
For more information on this unique program, email Senior Program Coordinator Kathi Grossman, or call her at 416-777-6684.