BY: ED GIGANTI
Ed Giganti is senior director, ministry leadership development, Catholic Health Association, St. Louis.
A New Statement Describes Formation for Health Ministry Leadership and the
Changes It Can Help Bring about
In articulating the 2003-2005 Strategic Plan for the ministry engaged, CHA's
Board of Trustees focused with new intensity on the need for qualified, prepared,
and formed leaders who will carry Catholic health care into the future. Among
the three-year plan's measures of success is this one: "At least
25 percent of executive, governance, and clinical leaders in our organizations
have participated in leadership formation, increasing their understanding
and fulfillment of what it means to be a Catholic health ministry."
In early 2005, CHA will conduct a survey that will aggregate the participation
of leaders across Catholic health care in activities of leadership formation,
providing quantitative evidence of our ministry's accomplishment in relation
to this measure of success. But some recent work by members of CHA's Ministry
Leadership Development (MLD) Committee presents Catholic health care organizations
with a clear articulation of just what formation for leadership roles in the
ministry is, as well as an articulation of the transformation it can help bring
"Formation" is a word long associated with preparation for religious
life, a process of orienting one's lifestyle for ministry. Certainly, formation
of lay leaders for the health ministry is similar to formation for religious
life in its goal of orientation for ministry; but the lifestyles, commitments,
and busy schedules of today's executives and managers in ministry organizations
call for a different process than that experienced by young sisters and brothers.
So what does formation mean in this context? The MLD Committee has reflected
at length on this question. This group, made up of professionals from Catholic
health care systems, represents disciplines of organizational development, learning,
mission, leadership development, and human resources, a mix that reflects the
multidimensional nature of leadership formation for health ministry. After numerous
discussions, including a recent "think tank" in which members were
joined by several resource specialists (see Box),
the committee articulated the following descriptive statement:
WE ARE THE PEOPLE of Catholic health care, a ministry of the church
continuing Jesus' mission of love and healing today. As provider, employer,
advocate, citizen — bringing together people of diverse faiths and backgrounds — our
ministry is an enduring sign of health care rooted in our belief that every
person is a treasure, every life a sacred gift, every human being a unity of
body, mind, and spirit.
We work to bring alive the Gospel vision of justice and peace. We answer
God's call to foster healing, act with compassion, and promote wellness
for all persons and communities, with special attention to our neighbors who
are poor, underserved, and most vulnerable. By our service, we strive to transform
hurt into hope.
As the church's ministry of health care, we commit to:
- Promote and Defend Human Dignity
- Attend to the Whole Person
- Care for Poor and Vulnerable Persons
- Promote the Common Good
- Act on Behalf of Justice
- Steward Resources
- Act in Communion with the Church
— A Shared Statement of Identity for the Catholic Health
Ministry © 2000, The Catholic Health Association of the United States
IN ORDER TO FULFILL these commitments, the Catholic health ministry needs leaders
who recognize and respond to a call to service . . . a call that comes from
God and from the communities in which these leaders live and flourish. They
come to leadership in the ministry sensing a personal congruence with the mission
and values of Catholic health care. They are formed for leadership in the ministry
in and by the communities to which they belong — church, professional, civic,
Formation and development of these leaders for Catholic health ministry occur
in an ongoing, multifaceted process that enables them to know and confidently
act on behalf of the mission of the church's health ministry. Through this
process, leaders grow in their abilities to guide organizations in a manner
that gives witness to Gospel values.
Leadership formation is a lifelong commitment that enhances four dimensions
- Personal exploration of one's own giftedness, call to service, and
commitment to the mission and values of Catholic health care
- Creation of communities in loving service of the common good
- Understanding and application of the tradition and teachings of the Catholic
Church with regard to health care
- Development and demonstration of the distinctive competencies required
to successfully lead a Catholic health care organization with passion
Reinforcing Dimensions of Leadership
How does leadership formation reinforce these dimensions of a leader? Ministry
leadership formation and development that reinforces personal exploration
of one's own giftedness, call to service, and commitment to the mission
and values of Catholic health care occurs in lifelong learning processes
that deepen self-awareness; strengthen one's spirituality; facilitate the
discernment of one's call to service; examine one's identity as a
servant leader; explore the sacred, spiritual nature of one's authority
as a leader in the ministry; and sharpen one's creative thinking, strategic,
and operational leadership skills.
Formation directed at creation of communities in loving service of the common
good occurs in processes that bring people together to explore diverse approaches
to the work at hand; enhance communication and conflict management/mediation
skills (difficult conversations); strengthen facilitation and meeting management
skills; expand opportunities for collaborative decision making; and refine skills
of asking for and giving feedback.
Understanding and application of the tradition and teachings of the Catholic
Church with regard to health care occurs through learning that builds knowledge
of these topics:
- Christian anthropology The Christian vision of the human person created
in God's image; a unity of body, mind, and spirit; possessing inalienable,
intrinsic worth; and flourishing in community
- Mission Jesus' mission of healing; and the Christian approach
to the mystery of suffering
- Church The life of the church; the place of the health ministry within
the church; the ministry's relationships with the church; and the meaning
- Social teaching The special attention paid to persons who are poor,
vulnerable, and marginalized; the pursuit of workplace dignity and justice;
and the commitment to promote the common good
- Ethics Ethical reflection, decision making, and action; organizational
ethical issues; and clinical ethical issues
- Stewardship Examining the distinction between ownership and stewardship,
and consequent responsibilities regarding the use of all resources
- Vocation The meaning of call and vocation; discernment and articulation
of one's own call
- Spirituality of the individual and of the organization; nurturing
- Servant leadership Examining and assimilating leadership behaviors
modeled after Jesus
- Sacramentality How service in health care reveals God's healing
- Prayer/Ritual The meaning of prayer; personal, spiritual disciplines;
leading the organization community in prayer and rituals
- Laity The meaning of baptism; the universal call to holiness; the
role of the laity
Ministry leadership formation that reinforces development and demonstration
of the distinctive competencies required to successfully lead a Catholic health
care organization with passion occurs through various modes of individual
and group learning; through relationships with supervisors, peers, direct reports,
and coaches; through processes of personal and organizational accountability;
The competencies required to lead a health care ministry have been described
in many ways by Catholic health care organizations. Although each health care
system's competency set is grounded in the values, culture, and challenges
of that system, common elements can be found in the Mission-Centered Leadership
Competency Model, based on research conducted throughout the ministry by CHA
in the early 1990s and updated in 1999 by CHA and a number of Catholic health
systems. Many systems' competency sets, while using different labels and
definitions, reflect core competencies from the Mission-Centered Leadership
Spiritual Grounding This is an ability to reflect and call on the spiritual
resources of the Catholic health care tradition, one's own personal faith,
and the faith of one's co-workers. These personal and collective spiritual
resources supply the deep grounding, motivation, and resolve that are necessary
to carry out the ministry. They also provide the larger context of meaning for
the day-in, day-out work of health care. The most effective Catholic health
care leaders have an inner spiritual life that translates into external action.
Integrity This is the courage to act on one's values and to take
risks consistent with one's values. This includes the struggles and challenges
that inner spiritual life undergoes as it seeks to express itself in action.
Integrity moves from action to reflection and back again to action. What is
being done is always considered in the light of what one most deeply holds dear.
Integrity becomes the personal basis for integrating the values and mission
of Catholic health care with the business realities of the marketplace.
Integration of Ministry Values This is commitment to incorporating Catholicism's
mission, traditions, and values (in particular, the church's social teachings)
into organizational decisions and behaviors. This leads to an interpretation
of the current experience of the organization in the light of its Catholic identity.
Care for Poor and Vulnerable Persons This is an underlying concern for
justice and fairness in societal relations, which is expressed within the leadership
role by taking initiative to serve the needs of the disadvantaged. This concern
includes both attention to the individual person and systemic transformation
of organizations and society.
Information Seeking This is a focus on current objective realities and
on using an understanding of these realities to make decisions for the organization.
Demonstrated by obtaining realistic, in-depth information.
Performance Excellence This is a personal drive to measure and improve
performance, focusing the leader's attention on working with the realities
of a ministry that is also a business.
Change Leadership This is the ability to lead a group, focusing and
energizing its members to work together for change. This includes articulating
an inspiring vision, managing resistance, and persevering to carry it through
Shaping the Organization This is the ability to build or adapt organizational
structures to accomplish a mission and to improve performance, including reorganizing
people and organizational systems, processes, procedures, communication, and
What are the outcomes of effective leadership formation?
Leaders who engage in lifelong processes of formation as described above will
be persons who create nourishing work environments, virtuous cultures of productivity
and compassion, and strong, reciprocal connections to the communities served
by their organizations. The leadership they demonstrate — identified, nurtured,
and inspired in formation programs — will yield outcomes in these and other
- Patients and families experience the healing presence of God.
- Such leaders inspire and hold employees accountable for compassionate,
quality care that significantly improves the experience of patients and
their families and friends.
- Their leadership brings about systems of care in which attention to the
spirit is explicitly recognized as part of care delivery.
- Effective pain management and appropriate end-of-life care are the norms.
- Safety and communication build patients' and families' trust
and increase their hope.
- Patient/family satisfaction metrics go up in such an environment.
- Employees and staff experience and contribute to healing environments.
- These leaders demonstrate their commitment to the dignity of the employees,
building and encouraging trusting relationships among colleagues at all
levels, engaging these employees and calling forth their compassion, which
is manifest in quality patient care.
- Employees feel recognized and respected, they are able to make and express
the meaning of their work, and at all levels they attest to a "work-life
- Employee insights and feedback are sought.
- These leaders create environments of balance marked by ambitious yet
achievable goals, fair rewards, and effective processes and protocols
stripped of unnecessary complexity.
- Integrity permeates the environment, words and actions match, and there
is accountability at all levels.
- Behaviors that are inconsistent with organizational and ministry values
are not tolerated.
- Catholic identity is communicated and explored.
- Decisions made are consistent with the church's social teaching
and are communicated as such.
- Employee satisfaction metrics improve as a result of such leadership,
but evidence is also found in the participation of employees in building
community in and outside the organization.
- The health of communities is improved.
- Through their strategic leadership, the needs and assets of the community
are clarified and better addressed.
- Services for persons who are poor and vulnerable are expanded.
- Advocacy on behalf of just treatment of all community members, in particular
those who are in greatest need, is a routine activity of the organization.
- Discernment dialogues at both management and board levels respect the
diversity of points of view and are informed by the ministry's faith
- These leaders bring people together, connecting diverse communities — whatever
their faith tradition — around an image of God's healing.
- In such an environment, philanthropy from the community is likely to
rise, as are community perception metrics.
- Leaders take on their identity within the ministry.
- These are leaders committed to their own ongoing formation and development,
as well as that of others.
- They each have development plans and expect the same of their peers
and direct reports.
- They call for and participate in implementing programs of formation
and development for the organization's trustees.
- They mentor emerging leaders for Catholic health care, and they "manage
by walking around," being accessible to those they lead.
- These leaders model what it means to be spiritually grounded, and they
accept and act from their authority as leaders in ministry.
In leadership formation activities, men and women in management and governance
roles (or soon to enter them) grow in their ability to create and translate
meaning for and with others in the organization and its community. Through their
lives of dignity and integrity, they foster respect and a shared sense of higher
purpose among the people who join them in the ministry. By raising uncomfortable
questions, they encourage active reflection. By engaging differences, they create
environments of hospitality and welcome. And through their passionate vision
and imagination, they inspire in others creativity and the courage to take risks.
The individuals and organizations of Catholic health care are themselves sacramental,
signs of God's love and presence among us. Leadership in this ministry
is the practice of courageous acts — large and small — that build up the
reign of God in our world. Leadership formation for ministry strengthens persons
for this critical role. Intellectual study, spiritual discipline, integration
of values in operations . . . leadership formation is all these, and, ultimately,
it is an opening to God's grace.
Ministry Leadership Development Committee
The members of CHA's Ministry Leadership Development Committee are:
Jon Abeles, EdD, senior vice president, human resources and organizational
effectiveness, Catholic Healthcare Partners, Cincinnati
David Black, vice president, leadership development, Catholic Health
William Brinkman, director, leadership formation, Ascension Health, St.
D'Anne Carpenter, executive director, Leadership and Management
Institute, Trinity Health, Novi, MI
Barbara Cox (chairperson), vice president, ministry leadership, St. Joseph
Health System, Orange, CA
Melvin Dowdy, PhD, organizational consultant and ethicist, Bon Secours
St. Mary's Hospital, Richmond, VA
Peter Giammalvo, PhD, vice president, leadership formation, Catholic
Health East, Newtown Square, PA
Cindy Heine, vice president, health ministry, FMOL Health System, Baton
Deanna Kenard, vice president, learning and organizational development,
Catholic Healthcare West, Pasadena, CA
Robert Porter, executive vice president for strategy and business development,
SSM Health Care St. Louis
Jack Salvadore, system director, organizational development, CHRISTUS
Ed Giganti (staff), senior director, ministry leadership development,
CHA, St. Louis
The following people joined committee members in a "think tank" on
leadership formation in May:
Lynette Ballard, director, mission training and development, Sisters
of Mercy Health System, St. Louis
Br. William Campbell, SM, EdD, assistant executive director-elementary,
National Catholic Educational Association, Washington, DC
Sr. Marie Damien Glatt, SCL, regional director, mission integration,
Providence Health System-Oregon, Portland, OR
Regina Haney, EdD, executive director, National Association of Boards,
Commissions, and Councils of Catholic Education, National Catholic Educational
Association, Washington, DC
Ken Homan, PhD, director, lay spiritual formation, Aquinas Institute
of Theology, St. Louis
Copyright © 2004 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.