Developing Outstanding Healthcare Leaders

Dr. Keith Knepp, UnityPoint Health – Peoria

Our mission is to deliver outstanding healthcare. We can’t do that without outstanding leaders.

In healthcare, we make a lot of big investments. We build advanced facilities and acquire machines and equipment—all to make sure we’re providing the best care and experience for those we serve. But the most important investment we make is in our people. Helping our teams succeed is the most important way we ensure that we’re delivering outstanding healthcare.

There’s a quote by Firestone Tire Company founder Harvey Firestone that sticks with me. He said, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” That sentiment is something UnityPoint Health takes seriously. Our organization’s commitment to developing leaders is the driving force behind the care we’re delivering to the communities we serve. We’re working to develop talent in all parts of our organization, from front-line staff to physicians and executives.

Develop U
One program of ours that I’m really proud of is called Develop U, which offers a wide range of courses to any employee who is interested. It doesn’t cost anything to participate, but the knowledge and skills they have the opportunity to acquire are invaluable.

The courses cover an array of topics designed to help employees grow. There are classes on how to have crucial conversations with colleagues, personal productivity, and appropriate workplace assertiveness. Last year, we used many of these courses to create a special development series for our emerging leaders. It’s part of our commitment to filling open leadership positions with internal candidates. And we can see that it’s working.

In 2017, we filled more than 80 percent of our open leadership positions with internal candidates. That’s a metric I’m really proud of. It shows that we’re cultivating teams that believe in what we’re doing. They’re committed to our mission and our goal of becoming a workplace where leaders want to lead and staff want a career.

Physician Leadership Academy
Another important way we’re developing leaders is through our Physician Leadership Academy. This is an intense, graduate-level program for physicians who emerge as clinical leaders and innovators. Physicians naturally serve as leaders in our clinics and hospitals, and we’re working to make sure their unique perspectives are represented in all levels of our organization.

Physicians who participate in our leadership academy work to develop an enhanced understanding of integrated health systems, how to lead teams, and what makes a great patient experience. We also make sure they acquire business skills in the areas of IT, finance and quality. This program has helped many of our local physicians take on leadership and administrative roles in our organization. In fact, our executive team is comprised of dyads in which each vice president is paired with an executive medical director, many of whom are graduates of our Physician Leadership Academy.

Building Strategic Agility
We’re also working to make sure our future executives are prepared to meet the challenges of the future. We’re doing this through a Strategic Agility program in partnership with Bradley University. Leaders who participate in this develop skills in strategic decision making, which prepares them to take on high-level leadership roles in our organization. They have the opportunity to forge deeper relationships with their colleagues through collaboration on real-life projects. This work sets the stage for the challenges they will face as they lead our organization forward in the future.

I’m really proud to be part of an organization that makes such a significant investment in its people. After all, what we do is all about people. By enabling our teams, we’re helping those we serve go from getting well to living well.

When care providers believe in the organization’s mission, it makes a real and tangible difference. Our mission is to deliver outstanding healthcare. We can’t do that without outstanding leaders. Because of our ongoing commitment to our people, we’re continuously developing those leaders. And because of them, the communities we serve know they can count on us for outstanding care. iBi

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