BY: ED GIGANTI
Ed Giganti is senior director, ministry leadership development,
Catholic Health Association, St. Louis.
In 1993, CHA initiated the first ministry-wide empirical research
into the competencies required for outstanding leadership in
Catholic health care. The result of that research project, a
model of 18 competencies, was introduced to the ministry at
the 1994 Catholic Health Assembly in Philadelphia.
Known as the Transformational Leadership Model, this set of
18 interrelated competencies — including skills, knowledge, social
roles, self-image, traits, and motives — presented a striking
description of leaders who synthesize spirituality and business
expertise in a seamless approach that facilitates delivery of
outstanding health care services to communities. The excellent
leaders studied in that research, both religious and lay, operated
from a basis of personal spirituality that was manifested in
their thoughts and actions. Personal spirituality, the research
showed, was the most salient and powerful factor of leadership
that created a positive organizational climate and enhanced
service to the community.
At the end of the 1990s, CHA and the Catholic health systems
that formed the Partners for Catholic Health Ministry Leadership
coalition revisited the earlier competency research to update
the model in response to feedback about its complexity. A new
model, the Mission-Centered Leadership Competency Model,* was
developed and released to the ministry in 1999. The model consists
of eight competencies grouped into four clusters: Vocation,
Values, Focus, and Action.
* Mission-Centered Leadership Competency Model © 1999 by
The Catholic Health Association of the United States and Hay
Acquisition Co., Inc. (assignee from and licensor to Hay Group,
Inc., and its affiliates).
In the years since the identification of the first ministry
leadership competencies, many Catholic health systems — large
and small — have developed competency models specific to their
own organizational cultures and values. Working with internal
and external consultants and using a variety of methods, these
systems have named sets of competencies and built corresponding
processes for leader selection, assessment, development, and
Some systems' competency models incorporate components of
CHA's Mission-Centered Leadership Competency Model, most often
the competencies of the Vocation and Values clusters. Other
systems' models show a high degree of similarity to the CHA
model. Although not a comprehensive study of competency models
in use across the ministry, a recent comparison of several systems'
models indicates a consistency in the way Catholic health care
systems describe the core characteristics of effective leaders.†
† Systems refine their competency models as needed. This
comparison of competencies reflects models in use at the beginning
In CHA's Mission-Centered Leadership Competency Model, two
competencies make up the Vocation Cluster: Spiritual Grounding
Spiritual Grounding Spiritual Grounding is described
as the ability to reflect and call on the spiritual resources
of the Catholic health care tradition, the leader's own personal
faith, and the faith of coworkers. These personal and collective
spiritual resources supply the deep grounding, motivation, and
resolve that are necessary to carry out the ministry. They also
provide a larger context of meaning for the day-in, day-out
work of health care. Effective leaders have an inner spiritual
life that translates into external action.
The set of competencies underpinning leadership development
at Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, includes Spirituality.
Leaders with this competency demonstrate that they find personal
meaning in work and are motivated to accomplish worthwhile tasks.
They have an inner strength and the sense that life is more
than just work. They evidence care and concern for others' well-being — body,
mind, and spirit. Leaders demonstrate this competency by maintaining
a positive attitude in relationships and ensuring that reflective
exercises are regularly incorporated into group meetings.
Providence Health System, Seattle, has drawn on the Career
Architect program developed by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael
M. Lombardo to develop its competency model.* The system has
also included the competency Spiritually Grounded, defined
as expressing a fit between the mission and core values of the
system and who the leader is as a person. Spiritually grounded
leaders believe their role is part of a larger spiritual mission,
and they promote an environment of hope, healing, and hospitality.
* Parts of the Providence Health System competency model
are derived from the CAREER ARCHITECT program developed and
copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo
for Lominger Limited, Inc.
In the model implemented at Ascension Health, St. Louis, the
competency Spiritual Grounding is the ability to reflect,
call on, and nurture the spiritual resources of self and others,
which provides a larger context of meaning for one's daily work.
Leaders demonstrating Spiritual Grounding model a deep personal
spiritual life, thereby creating an environment that nurtures
the spiritual development of others. These leaders behave in
ways that are consistently aligned with the organization's mission
and values, and they demonstrate a strong conviction and commitment
to personal principles and values even in the face of unexpected
or crisis situations.
The Executive Leadership Competency Model at Bon Secours Health
System, Marriottsville, MD, was developed as a customization
of the CHA model. In the Bon Secours model, however, Reflective
Integration, defined in language nearly identical to that
for Spiritual Grounding in the CHA model, is not placed within
the Vocation Cluster. It is, instead, an element that "reflects,
holds together, and integrates the dynamic tensions of leadership
in Catholic health care." Within the Vocation Cluster, a competency
called Charism of Bon Secours is described as an underlying
conviction and support for compassion, liberation, and healing,
particularly in terms of the ministry of health care for all
persons, especially the poor and dying.
Integrity The second Vocation Cluster competency in
the CHA model is Integrity, 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 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.
Similar competencies appear in all the systems' models examined:
- Catholic Health Initiatives, Integrity and Character — "exhibits
high ethical standards of personal conduct; demonstrates integrity
by following through and keeping commitments; earns trust
and respect through his/her honesty, openness, and respect
- Christus Health (Irving, TX), Mission and Ministry
(includes the competencies of Integrity, Ministry Values,
Customer Service, Stewardship, and Valuing Diversity) — "exhibits
high ethical standards regardless of circumstances; regarded
as someone who consistently builds a climate of fairness and
- Wheaton Franciscan Services (WFS) (Wheaton, IL), Integrity — At
this health system, five core values — Integrity, Respect, Development,
Excellence, and Stewardship — are the foundation of development
programs for leaders as well as performance management for
all employees. Behavioral statements that flow from the values
were used to construct a 360-degree assessment tool for leaders.
The WFS approach, although different from a more typical program
built around an identified competency model, exhibits great
similarity between values and behavioral statements and the
Mission-Centered Leadership Competency Model.
From the behavioral statements related to the value of Integrity:
"We value words and actions that are honest and build trust.
The value of Integrity requires us to... understand and follow
all laws, regulations, and policies that apply to our work;
place organizational success above personal gain; communicate
truthfully and expect others to do the same; identify and resolve
- Ascension Health, Integrity — "recognized for consistency
between speaking and acting in ways that reflect organizational
values as well as professional and personal ethics. Can be
counted on for honesty and to fulfill personal commitments.
Places the organizational goals ahead of personal goals."
Two competencies make up the Values Cluster in CHA's Mission-Centered
Leadership Competency Model: Integration of Ministry Values
and Care for Poor and Vulnerable Persons.
Integration of Ministry Values This competency is a
commitment to incorporate 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 light of its
Catholic identity. The life of the organization reflects the
core commitments of the ministry: 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, and act in communion with the church.
At Ascension Health, the competency Integration of Ministry
and Mission describes leaders who understand and champion
church teaching related to health care and the system's mission
and values and integrate them in decisions and actions. Leaders
demonstrating this competency articulate and teach the connection
between the work life of the organization, the shared ministry
values, and the mission and traditions of the Catholic Church
and sponsors. Also, these leaders model and lead others to carry
the ministry and values into the larger community and society.
This Ascension competency recognizes that ministry leaders
operate in environments characterized by plurality of religious
beliefs; the leader who demonstrates Integration of Ministry
and Mission respectfully invites people of different religious
beliefs to integrate their traditions into their service of
Providence Health System leaders who demonstrate the competency
Decision Quality/Values-Based Decision Making "draw on
their own wisdom, Catholic social and ethical teaching, and
a mixture of analysis, experience, and judgment to choose the
right action." Another competency in the Providence model, Mission
and Values Integration, calls on the leader to teach the
connections between the organization's core values and what
happens in the workplace and marketplace. These leaders reflect
on and act in line with the values even when doing so is difficult,
and they encourage others to do likewise.
At Trinity Health, Novi, MI, development of leaders at several
levels is built on a set of "core" competencies as well as role-specific
competencies. Among the core competencies is Mission Centered,
defined as setting high personal values, demonstrating unwavering
commitment to integrity, and behaving in ways reflecting the
system's mission and values. Leaders demonstrating this competency
value diversity, express compassion for others, and respect
all people. They understand and can articulate the organization's
heritage, mission, and values, and they use these elements to
inspire others to join in their ministry.
In Wheaton Franciscan Services' values-based leadership development
process, leaders are assessed on their demonstrated behaviors
of honoring diversity in practices of faith, traditions, and
culture (the Wheaton Franciscan value of Respect); supporting
in speech and actions the organizational beliefs as a ministry
of the Catholic Church (Integrity); and understanding how mission,
vision, and values apply to work (Development).
Care for Poor and Vulnerable Persons In the CHA model,
this competency is defined as an underlying concern for justice
and fairness in societal relations that is expressed within
the leadership role by taking initiative to serve the needs
of disadvantaged people. This concern includes both attention
to the individual person and to systemic transformation of organizations
At Providence Health System, the competency Care for Poor
and Vulnerable Persons calls on the leader to find creative
ways to respond to the needs of the underserved, particularly
when the organization faces financial pressure. Also, these
leaders must be advocates for systemic change in society on
behalf of poor and vulnerable persons.
Mentioned previously, the competency Charism of Bon Secours
at Bon Secours Health System describes leaders who, within their
organizations and communities, respond to the Bon Secours calling
to serve all people, especially those who are poor, dying, and
vulnerable, in ways that demonstrate the charism of Bon Secours:
compassion, liberation, and healing. These leaders actively
investigate the situations of the marginalized, and even when
confronted with economic challenges, they maintain and sometimes
expand services to persons in need.
The Ascension Health competency Integration of Ministry
and Mission, mentioned earlier, describes leaders' behavior
in modeling a commitment to serve the needs of the poor both
inside the organization and out in the community.
Beyond the competencies of the Vocation and Values clusters
of the CHA model, additional similarities exist among the competencies
of various systems' models. See the Table, below, for
a sample of these similarities.
This brief review of competency models from several Catholic
health care systems shows that the ministry's efforts at developing
leaders for its future — although diverse in language, approach,
and process from system to system — are consistent in naming and
describing the behavioral characteristics of excellent ministry
leadership. Beyond systems' needs to create and sustain corporate
cultures, the consistency in leadership development efforts
across systems will result in leaders who recognize the roles
they play in a national ministry of a universal church.
Copyright © 2002 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.