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NCHL expands its November conference

Throughout its history, NCHL’s annual conference has followed a brisk half-day format, followed by an award / recognition dinner. This year for the first time we are expanding the format to two half-days. Most fundamentally, the change reflects NCHL’s expanding role in supporting healthcare leadership development, as well as the pace of evolution currently taking place in the health sector.

Understanding and preparing for sector-level change

The November 20th afternoon sessions will focus in on sector-wide changes and adaptive responses to these changes. Tom Main from Oliver Wyman and Roy Smythe, MD, from AVIA and HX360 will provide the former, with Rick Brush from Collective Health and David Erickson from the Center for Community Development Investments introducing the latter. In between sessions attendees will be encouraged to participate in discussions about what these changes mean for their own organizations, as well as how we can best move forward collectively in support of improving health.

Best Organizations for Leadership Development

The November 21nd morning sessions feature presentation teams representing many of the organizations being recognized this year as Best Organizations for Leadership Development, including Penn Medicine, NorthShore-LIJ, Sutter, Duke Regional, University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, Henry Ford Health System, Stanford Health, Cone Health. and Cleveland Clinic. Sessions will focus on high-priority topics including strategic alignment with organizational goals, physician leadership development, diversity & inclusions, and innovations in efficiently recruiting and developing leadership talent. We will also be discussing work NCHL and our partner organizations are doing to support more collaborative approaches to the national administrative fellowships process.

The Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award

The evening of November 20th, we have the opportunity to recognize two outstanding healthcare leaders, Nancy Schlichting and Dr. Glenn Steele, Jr.  In addition to providing well-deserved recognition for these two pioneers in the field, this fundraising  event helps support NCHL’s work throughout the year in support of healthcare leadership development.

We hope you will join us in November for these terrific events, and help us spread the word.

On behalf of NCHL and its stakeholder groups, thank you for your support.


– Andrew N. Garman, PsyD

NCHL Chief Executive Officer



Part 1: Hiring Practices – The Science Behind NCHL’s 2013 National Health Leadership Survey

This series of posts relates to NCHL’s 2013 leadership development survey, which we will be closing out this week. If your hospital or health system did not receive an invitation to participate (or if you’re not sure but would like to participate), please contact Joyce Anne Wainio at

Accelerating development

In my last post I described research on the role of experience (vs. talent) in developing leadership and other competencies.  But  it’s just as important to understand that not all experiences are equally valuable.

In judging the value an experience may have, relevance is a particularly important criterion.  Sitting in a classroom or reading a book has little relevance by itself; it becomes relevant through its application to real-world challenges, or high-fidelity simulations.

Next is the nature of the challenges experiences provide.  A review by Cindy McCauley and Stephane Brutus (see p. 7) identified four characteristics of experiences with greater developmental value: Unfamiliar Responsibilities, Need for Substantial Change, Greater Responsibility or Latitude, and Dealing with Failure or Adversity.

Third, high-quality performance feedback is critical. In this realm, research is beginning to favor the highly methodical debriefing approaches pioneered by the military, such as the After-Action Review (AAR).  One recent and unusually well-controlled study by Scott DeRue and colleagues examined the impact of AARs in the context of an MBA program.  The use of a graduate education context allowed the researchers much greater control over the leadership development interventions they were testing; participants thus differed primarily on whether they received AAR-style feedback (experimental group), or  less-structured feedback delivered with comparable frequency (comparison group).  Results indicated that the leaders receiving AARs saw significantly greater improvement in their leadership capabilities vs. the comparison group.

Lastly, there are important individual differences in leaders’ abilities to receive and effectively use feedback, and to benefit from developmental experiences.  This underscores the importance of using effective approaches to identify high-potential candidates for whom leadership investments will yield the greatest potential for future success.

As always, I welcome additional feedback or questions about how the evidence base can help improve our leadership development practices.   Feel free to drop me a note or reply to this post – or see me live at NCHL’s annual conference on November 19th, 2013 in Chicago.

Part 3: Deliberate Practice – The Science Behind NCHL’s 2013 National Health Leadership Survey

Every 2-3 years, NCHL conducts a national survey of leadership development practices as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the evidence base supporting these practices. If your hospital or health system did not receive an invitation to participate (or if you’re not sure but would like to participate), please contact Joyce Anne Wainio at 

Strategic alignment

In 2011, we published a literature review summarizing the research linking management practices to organizational outcomes.  Among other conclusions, research suggested that leadership training and development programs have greater impact on organizational performance if they are tied to the strategic objectives of the organization.

Most of the research reported in that article came from other industries, so later that year we conducted several additional analyses to see if the findings would hold up in healthcare.  The first of these was a re-analysis of our 2010 leadership practices survey data, to investigate relationships bewteen individual practices and the results hospitals were finding on the new value-based purchasing measures.  Although many relationships were found between leadership practices and either clinical or experience of care outcomes, only one item correlated with both: “Leadership learning and development is aligned with organization’s strategic goals and priorities.”

In a separate study, published earlier this month, we surveyed 50 health systems to examine the extent to which strategically aligned HR practices enhanced health systems’ capacity to respond to health reform. Here too, we found that alignment was associated with expanded capacity to pursue cost reduction, access, and quality improvement efforts.

Several questions on the 2013 survey relate to senior leadership involvement with leadership development programs. While this is not as comprehensive a measure of alignment as the survey work mentioned above, it provides a reasonable proxy. If senior leadership has an active hand in these programs, participants are far more likely to be exposed to the strategic relevance of what they are learning.

Involving senior leaders as teachers pays other dividends as well, including opportunities to practice critical communication and reflection skills, and do so in an environment that is more feedback-rich than their operational roles.

‘Big data’ and the Learning Healthcare System: Implications for leadership development

Last week, the Health Organization Research Association held their annual meeting at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Friday’s program was dedicated to an exploration of healthcare organizational excellence using publicly available datasets.The morning began with the National Center for Healthcare Leadership introducing their collaborative Organizational Excellence (‘OrgX’) initiative, whose goal is to reduce entry barriers for academics and practitioners to collaboratively access healthcare organization datasets and expertise. Next on the program  Image

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