Innovation Through Lived Values: Equipping Healthcare Leaders through Coaching

Healthcare leaders

Wellstar Health System has a rich history in the Atlanta metropolitan area. We serve 9 counties in over 300 offices with 3,000+ healthcare professionals and over 30,000 team members. Yet, we’re not satisfied with just maintaining the status quo. Wellstar seeks continual improvement in how we serve our patients — and each other. 

Innovation demands change, and we wanted to support our employees with the tools they need to navigate our continual transformation and growth. As part of our robust talent development program, CareerCare, Wellstar provides coaching to empower our team members and enrich their capabilities. 

I want to share some insights from the program we’ve developed with Sounding Board including how transformative leadership coaching is garnering internal buy-in and equipping leaders to not just manage change, but to lead it.

Leadership Development Through A Value-Centric Lens

To be clear, great leaders already fill Wellstar’s leadership bench. Our goal was not to reform our leaders, but to refine and enhance their capabilities within the lens of our values and provide additional resources they could draw upon to drive innovation throughout the organization.

Recently, we’ve rolled out action-oriented values for Wellstar:

  • Serve with Compassion
  • Pursue Excellence
  • Honor Every Voice

 

Leadership coaching allows us to provide development that serves both individual team members and the organization as a whole. Coaching provides holistic support to leaders as they lead and manage change.

When choosing a coaching vendor, we really wanted a partner. We wanted a team who shared our urgency around putting values into action, and the flexibility to scale coaching programs to the entire organization. Sounding Board, backed by the investment group Catalyst, of which Wellstar is a member, understood our needs. Together we co-created a coaching program to strategically build out the capabilities through the lens of our values across our first strategic cohort of leaders: a pilot with 150 of our executive directors and assistant vice presidents.

We selected specific leadership capabilities to develop through coaching mapped to each of our three values and their corresponding behaviors. 

Value: Serve with Compassion

Capabilities: Develops Relationships

To serve with compassion, Wellstar team members need to connect with purpose — not always easy in a high-paced environment. We knew to truly live out this value, leaders would need to elevate their ability to build and develop relationships even when they’re short on time. 

Coaches work with leaders on the skills underlying this capability: interpersonal skills, communication skills, and a sense of self-awareness. These same skills help Wellstar to innovate by creating greater connectivity and collaboration across teams and the entire organization.

Value: Pursue Excellence

Capabilities: Results Orientation, Leading Teams, Strategic Planning

Healthcare is an ever-evolving industry, and we want to be on the forefront of innovation. To achieve this, we need everyone one of our team members to explore with curiosity. Additionally, we want every Wellstar employee to take responsibility and adopt an ownership mindset. 

The active pursuit of excellence requires leaders to hone their ability to develop others, manage change, and execute on strategic plans. Coaches work with leaders to increase their abilities to identify high-potential employees ripe for development and influence teams towards positive change and innovation.

Value: Honor Every Voice

Capabilities: Respect for Differences

Wellstar serves a diverse population, and we want to celebrate that culture while also reflecting it. Honoring every voice ensures we provide a welcoming and inclusive environment. 

Yet, honoring every voice isn’t just about waiting for someone to speak and then listening. It demands that our leaders proactively pursue these perspectives and seek to understand them. Through this process, leaders increase their respect for differences.

As an added benefit, respect for differences helps further drive innovation by inviting diverse perspectives and increasing organizational collaboration.

Results Beyond the Initial Cohort

Of course, any measure of development is only as effective as the employee is engaged and committed to the program. We’re thrilled to share that on average, leaders rated their satisfaction with their initial session at 94%. After the completed 3-month coaching engagement, 98.5% of members who completed the exit survey agreed that:

  • The investment the leader took in the coaching process was worth it.
  • The leader is confident that they will be able to sustain the gains they’ve made through coaching.
  • Coaching has made a significant impact on the leader’s growth and development.
  • The leader’s coach has helped them to achieve growth they wouldn’t have achieved on their own.

 

Our initial program had a far-reaching impact on Wellstar, well beyond just our ED and AVP populations. The managers of these leaders have reported improved conversations and collaboration between the cohort population, themselves, and their direct reports.

Like other organizations, Wellstar had implemented coaching in the past as a prescriptive measure for underperforming employees. There was, admittedly, hesitancy for some at the thought of beginning coaching engagements. Yet, after the success of this program, employee buy-in for using coaching as a proactive development tool has increased tenfold. Our team has received multiple requests to expand the program to other cohorts — and we are! We’ve already launched three new coaching programs and are planning to create at least two more within the next year.

Now that more of our leaders will have the tools to steer transformation, we’re excited to see what innovations come next. 

Wellstar is exceptionally proud that our values are being put into action. We’re confident that through programs like this, as well as others within CareerCare, that we’re improving the employee experience for every team member–which translates into better care and support for our patients.

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