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 patients and employees in a measurable way. You may ask, is this possible? I say, it is absolutely possible.
Health Equity Coaching elevates traditional executive coaching by providing healthcare leaders with the strategic and tactical support they need to impact diversity and inclusion within their units, departments and/or functions, and thereby increase equity.
For example, meet Josefina, VP of Talent Management at a large county hospital. Josefina was perceived as a leader who was not strategic and she tended to hold on to work. This left her overwhelmed and it denied development opportunities for her team. Josefina’s internal customers (i.e., hiring managers) complained that her recruiters were not presenting diverse candidates – an issue for which they were accountable. Josefina often demonstrated behaviors described as defensive by this stakeholder group. The CHRO secured Health Equity coaching for Josefina to help her delegate and to understand how she could meet the organization’s diversity recruitment goals.
Now, meet Michael, a CFO with 20+ years of experience at a six-hospital system, who was referred for Health 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.
Though Josefina and Michael were in different roles in different functions at different healthcare organizations, their challenges were quite similar. Neither understood how some personality traits were getting in their way. Neither understood what they needed to do to improve their results. Additionally, neither understood how the two challenges were directly linked and how they might impact health equity.
Fortunately, their Health Equity Coaches did. Their coaches assisted them in answering several critical questions, including:
- What is my function doing well with respect to advancing equity for employees and patients? What can it do to improve its capacity to advance equity?
- How do organizational policies/practices help or hinder my function from advancing equity?
- How does my leadership style/approach help or hinder me from advancing equity?
- What metrics define equity in my function for employees and patients? What would an integrated approach look like?
- What specific leadership behaviors should I start, stop, or continue to support equity?
To learn more about Josefina and Michael’s health equity coaching journeys and results, view their case studies here. A teaser: equipping well-intentioned leaders with meaningful data yields impactful leaders who improve 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 20-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 through diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence strategies and practices.