Changes in community health center leadership occur as a result of industry growth spurring professional opportunities and other transitions, such as retirement. Recent turnover rates among health center leadership staff have created a sense of urgency in addressing leadership development needed to direct and sustain health centers into the future. Since 2000, there have been vacancies in one or more of the key leadership positions in each of the community health centers in the state. The technical complexity of health centers and their regulatory requirements contribute to the need for strong, informed, cohesive leadership teams to connect to organizational mission and goals.
To address leadership development needs, in 2001 the Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC) received funding from the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) to implement the Executive Leadership Initiative for Texas community health centers with these main goals:
- Increase the effectiveness of each member of participating center’s leadership team
- Enhance each participating leadership team’s ability to work cohesively toward accomplishment of the center’s mission
- Improve overall staff engagement
- Ensure development of a succession plan for each leadership team member, and
- Reduce staff turnover, especially in leadership team positions
The Executive Leadership Initiative is a yearlong team-based program that includes the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Medical Officer of each participating center. The teams submit a registration form that is shared in April if each year. The program has three face-to-face training sessions each focusing on a different related leadership development topic: leadership skills and communication, employee engagement and change management. The sessions are scheduled at various locations across the state intended to minimize travel for participating teams.
The Executive Leadership Initiative has proven effective with participating teams consistently receiving improved scores on individual leadership skills assessments and organizations receiving improved scores on staff engagement surveys after participating in the Initiative.