New Leadership Philosophy to Improve Staff Engagement
by Graham Strong
A new leadership approach at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre called “Me to We to All” is designed to build upon each leader’s individual strengths, create more collaborative and supportive teams, and ultimately improve patient care.
“We want to create a positive place to work,” said Amanda Björn, Vice President of Human Resources. “I believe that the leaders need to care for the people who care for our patients. Happy staff, happy patients.”
Björn joined the Health Sciences Centre’s senior leadership team in August 2016. Previously, she worked at Providence Healthcare in Toronto, where she first began developing the approach. She introduced it to approximately 110 directors, managers, coordinators, union leaders, physicians, and other Hospital leaders in spring 2017.
Björn said it’s about changing the leadership culture at the Hospital from the top down. “We have to focus on staff-centred leadership as part of Patient and Family Centred Care (PFCC). It’s just as important,” she said.
In developing the Me to We to All leadership and organizational development framework, Björn drew from several accepted approaches including the LEADS in a Caring Environment framework. Like other leadership approaches, Me to We to All is a complex and comprehensive approach. One of the main principles is to help leaders understand themselves better.
“Typical leadership training helps you focus on skills such as managing budgets, managing conflict, and so on. For example, conflict management training provides tips and skill-building, but it’s a cookie-cutter approach that doesn’t take into consideration your own natural abilities or even your weaknesses,” Björn said.
Me to We to All helps an organization’s leaders understand themselves better so that they can enhance leadership skills and a customized leadership approach that will be most effective for them.
“It’s less of a competency approach, and more of a way to discover which approach works best for your strengths and values.”
It’s also designed to encourage collaboration rather than command and control and to reduce the rigidity of the typical leadership pyramid that exists in organizations. This is in line with the developing leadership megatrends we are seeing, where managers from C-level executives on down collaborate with and enable others – the “on-the-ground experts” – to make the decisions themselves.
“If you have an organization where everyone is playing politics and they’re not open and vulnerable with each other, that gets in the way of achieving results,” Björn said.
A more collaborative environment where everyone is working together towards the same goal improves results, reduces stress, and makes for a happier work environment. In turn, that will lead to better patient care.
Another part of this approach is Björn’s “Learning Community” concept. Part conference break-out group and part workshop group, Learning Communities brings together leaders from different parts of the Hospital to learn together, provide support, and bounce ideas off each other. It’s taken directly from the “two heads are better than one” playbook: the idea is to talk through challenges in an open, supportive environment and get feedback.
“Our leaders get support from their peers and opportunities to discuss leadership and new ideas on how to handle situations. We are creating a space where our leaders can gather and grow together.”