Ministry members work to finalize resource on forming leaders

July 1, 2011


ATLANTA — Leadership formation is a dynamic, creative, collaborative process and one that is more important than ever because laypeople are in senior decision-making rolls at all levels of the health ministry.

To share best practices in formation, CHA is preparing to publish "Framework for Leadership Formation: Building on Experience, Preparing for the Future." Expected to be available in late summer, the resource and the framework it presents for formation are the result of a year-and-a-half-plus process to identify leading practices in formation programs developed across the Catholic health ministry.

CHA's Ministry Leadership Development Committee and Brian Yanofchick, the association's senior director of leadership development, collaborated with The Reid Group in the writing of the framework.

"We were very impressed with the depth of the personal impact of some formation programs on those who have completed them," said Yanofchick. "Our hope is to encourage more of the good work that is being done and to enable systems just beginning formation efforts to learn from the experience of others."

At a meeting convened just prior to the Catholic Health Assembly in Atlanta, the committee shared its third and near-final draft of the resource. The guide is intended as a tool for ministry sponsors, trustees, chief executives, mission leaders, formation leaders and other executives engaged in shaping leaders. It includes:

  • A description of formation.
  • An outline of foundational elements of successful formation processes.
  • An overview of key goals of formation work.
  • An outline of core content in formation programs.
  • An explanation of various approaches to ministry formation for senior leadership.
  • Tips on creating and sustaining senior leadership formation programs.

Yanofchick said that many factors are moving Catholic health care providers to better define their formation activity and to share best practices and competencies with others in the ministry. Among them: the transformation of health care under the health reform law; a Catholic health care ministry with an increasingly diverse

workforce; a deepened understanding of the Christian baptismal call to holiness, ministry and leadership; and the vocational call of leaders from other faith traditions and spiritualities to serve in Catholic health care.

The meeting here brought together about 85 participants, most of whom were mission leaders and sponsors. Beth McPherson, vice president of mission integration at St. Joseph Health System in Orange, Calif., said the group at her table agreed that prospective leaders need to share an "affection and affinity" for the Gospel mandate, whether or not they practice the Catholic faith.

Another group suggested that formation must also take into account the individual's "lived experience." Reporting on behalf of the ministry leaders at his table, Michael Doyle, executive director of mission and physician practices at Sisters of Mercy Health System in Chesterfield, Mo., asked the group to consider how to build on the formation already happening in people's lives.

Formation is an ongoing activity, and CHA will continue to promote a collaborative approach to process improvement.

"While much good work has been done, we remain challenged to identify the most effective ways to measure the impact of formation on organizations," Yanofchick said. "Some important work has been done in this regard, and we hope to see it develop more in the near future."


Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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