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At my core, I believe that healthcare leaders are well-intentioned. I believe they care about the patients and communities served by their organizations. I believe they care about their colleagues. I believe they care about being good leaders.

However, I know that personalities and competency gaps can get in the way of optimal performance.  When this happens, organizations typically secure an executive coach to help leaders improve in a few areas – such as communication or delegation – with varying levels of success. Imagine, though, if executive coaching was directly aligned with increasing equity for employees, patients, diverse suppliers, and broader communities in a measurable way. You may ask, is this possible?  I say, it is absolutely possible.

Equity Coaching elevates traditional executive coaching by providing healthcare leaders with the strategic and tactical support they need to impact diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within their units, departments and/or functions, and thereby enhance DEI.

Meet Michael, a CFO with 20+ years of experience at a six-hospital system, who was referred for Equity Coaching by the CEO. Although Michael had institutional knowledge, strong analytic skills, and a passion for the organization’s success, he experienced challenges in his role. From a personality perspective, Michael’s peers described him as a poor communicator and as someone unwilling to collaborate. With respect to his performance, Michael struggled to improve financial results. Michael expressed discomfort with the organization’s new structure and how to navigate the changes. Additionally, his colleagues stated that he was not connected to the community served by the system.

Michael did not understand what he needed to do to improve his leadership effectiveness. In addition, he did not understand how his challenges impacted his ability to advance health equity.

Fortunately, his Equity Coach did. The coach assisted them in answering several critical questions, including:

  • What was his function doing well with respect to advancing equity for employees, patients, and diverse suppliers? What could he do to improve his capacity to advance equity?
  • How do organizational policies/practices help or hinder his ability to advance health equity?
  • How did his leadership style/approach help or hinder him from advancing equity?
  • What metrics defined equity in his function for employees, patients, and diverse suppliers? What would an integrated approach look like?
  • What specific leadership behaviors should he start, stop, or continue to advance health equity?

To learn more about Michael’s equity coaching journey and results, view his case study here. A teaser: equipping well-intentioned leaders with meaningful data yields impactful leaders who advance health equity.

Audra Davis, PsyD, is an Organizational Psychologist who connects research with practice. As a healthcare consultant, she leverages formal training, unending passion, and a nearly 25-year track record of successfully developing people and organizations’ potential to bridge where they are and where they want to be. Dr. Davis is Managing Partner and leads the Organizational Development practice at Exeter. For the past several years, her exclusive focus has been supporting healthcare executives in developing culturally competent and capable workforces. She helps organizations provide quality patient care and remove barriers for diverse suppliers through diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence strategies and practices.