BY: ED GIGANTI
Ed Giganti is senior director, leadership development, Catholic Health Association,
Theologian John Shea, STD, writing several years ago about CHA's Mission-Centered
Leadership Competency Model, said that in health ministry the first step from
faith to practicality—that is, concrete action on behalf of mission—is values.
"Faith convictions and narratives are expressed in the full-blown religious
language of the Catholic tradition, for example, God, Christ, sin, redemption,
church, and so on," Shea wrote.1 "The values flow from this language,
but are stated in more neutral language, for example, respect, excellence, compassion,
stewardship, partnership." Values, he continued, are, when implemented through
policies and behaviors, the bridge between faith and action.
Turning to the model's competencies of Integration of Ministry Values and
Care for Poor and Vulnerable Persons that constitute the "Values cluster,"
he spoke directly to the ministry's leaders:
Leaders of Catholic healthcare must learn to work with values. In general,
this means they must have a working knowledge of the faith convictions that
ground the values and the ability to connect the values to the life of the
organization. Starting from the values, they must be able to go backward to
faith and forward to implementation. At times they will need to explore the
grounding convictions, and at other times they will need to examine how a
specific value informs a specific decision. A competency with values makes
the faith identity and mission visible and influential.2
Identifying Values in Action
At Catholic Health East (CHE), based in Newtown Square, PA, an effort to integrate
leadership formation and performance management is calling executive leaders
to examine and articulate how their decisions and actions are demonstrating
the health care system's core values of:
- Reverence for each person
- Commitment to those who are poor
Peter Giammalvo, PhD, CHE's vice president for leadership formation, joined
the system in 2000, three years after it was formed. In collaboration with George
Longshore, vice president for human resources, Giammalvo designed and implemented
a process of leadership formation for CHE's Executive Leadership Council, which
comprises the CEOs of the system's regional health corporations (RHCs) and the
system senior management team and vice presidents. After the leadership formation
process had been in use for a year, Giammalvo asked these executives to evaluate
it. Although they recognized the difference between the assessment and development
planning activities Giammalvo had put in place and the system's performance
management process, they told him that, in reality, these activities were accomplished
in conjunction with each other and at the same time. Could he, they asked, devise
a process that could bring these activities together, keeping them distinct
but demonstrating the relationship between the two?
In addition, they asked him to devise a process that would also help them
assess themselves, each other, and their direct reports on living out the system's
seven core values.
Giammalvo's response was an executive performance and development review that
was rolled out at the end of 2002. The review process requires leaders to document
their performance (and the associated outcomes) as it relates to previously
identified performance measures. But the process also requires leaders to provide
narratives that include specific examples of how, in the achievement of their
objectives during the year under review, they were able to demonstrate and advance
the core values. It is not a complex assessment device—in fact, Giammalvo provided
the executives with minimal instruction about how to fulfill this requirement—but
through this exercise, leaders are reflecting on the core values and their connection
with their own job responsibilities and performance.
"Everyone took a different approach to this assignment," Giammalvo said. "In
the narratives, they considered the uniqueness of their roles and, looking at
one or more of our core values, talked about how it was demonstrated in their
"One finance executive, for example, wrote about what his team put in place
regarding integrity in financial reporting, as well as ways for making sure
that in times of budget crunch, the easy solution was not elimination of programs
because 'we can't afford them.' He noted that it would be opposed to our core
values to do that."
Another executive committed to emphasizing the core value of reverence
for each person by monitoring scores on the employee satisfaction survey
and taking actions to increase employees' feelings of being valued at work.
Several of the executives dealing with areas such as finance, risk management,
or insurance drew connections between their work and the system's value of stewardship.
"They looked at cost-reduction projects they had accomplished in refinancings
or reconfiguring insurance programs and identified their impact on the system's
ability to carry on the ministry," Giammalvo said.
A number of executives wrote about their personal volunteer work in homeless
shelters and soup kitchens or in working with church groups, connecting their
involvements with the system's value, commitment to those who are poor.
"We have taken a big step towards truly integrating the core values of CHE
into the leadership behaviors of its executives by asking them to reflect on
the core values in a new way," Giammalvo said. "For the first time, we have
role-specific narratives about the core values in action, and that makes them
real, not just a plaque on the wall."
"Narrative Has Power"
Sr. Patricia Talone, RSM, PhD, CHA's vice president for mission services, has
both written about and given presentations on the importance of narrative in
theology and ethics. "Narrative has the power not only to describe our identity,
but to help shape who we are as a community," she said.
Giammalvo said he is using some of the values narratives from the review process
in orienting new executives. "I always talk about my job as having two dimensions,
ministry formation and professional development, but you can't do one without
the other in this ministry. I can't talk to a CEO about his or her responsibility
for leading a regional health ministry without saying, 'The heavy responsibilities
that come with your leadership role must be carried out with courage, integrity,
justice, reverence, etc.,'" he said.
CHE's performance review follows a calendar-year cycle. The process is initiated
in December, and all submissions are due by the end of February. Once performance
is documented and the core values narratives are discussed with the executives'
supervisors, then executives create or revise their development plans for the
next year. CHE requires all executives to have and take action on a professional
For more information about CHE's executive performance review process, contact
Peter Giammalvo at [email protected].
- John Shea, "Challenges and Competencies," Health Progress, January-February
2000, p. 21.
- Shea. "Values cluster" is a phrase used in the Mission-Centered Leadership
Competency Model developed for CHA in 1999 by Hay, McBer, a consulting firm
based in Boston.
Copyright © 2003 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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