March 29, 2019

Why Developing Leaders in Healthcare Matters

A mission that goes hand in hand

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A key goal of Cleveland Clinic is to be a world leader not just in healthcare, but also in developing healthcare leaders.


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Gina Cronin, Executive Director of the Global Leadership & Learning Institute, says Cleveland Clinic scans the globe for inspiration in best leadership practices, while also positioning its leaders to inspire others in healthcare.

“We look externally quite a bit. We look at corporate America, global corporations, organizations that have been viewed for a couple decades as the best in class in developing leaders,” she says.

Cleveland Clinic has looked to such companies as Boeing, Microsoft and Google. But healthcare is unique and the enterprise faces different challenges than traditional corporations.

There is no cookie-cutter approach

“We adapt the best strategies and successes and also create our own,” she explains. “We look to see what fits for us and what doesn’t work. We use these insights to shape our thinking.”

The institute, which oversees the Global Executive Education program, embraces its role as a teacher to others.

“We have some of the best physician leaders in the world, so we leverage them heavily,” she says. “We have a strong focus on Cleveland Clinic leaders as teachers. Part of our mission is to inform the rest of the healthcare world about the Cleveland Clinic Way.”

She noted a 2018 program for aspiring physician leaders that featured Cleveland Clinic physicians as educators.


“A key part was having Cleveland Clinic leaders share their own leadership stories. They talk about challenges they face and they include that within the leadership education framework.”

Learning is a lifelong commitment

The mission goes hand in hand with a highly focused learning strategy that permeates Cleveland Clinic culture. The Global Leadership & Learning Institute is committed to a philosophy that every caregiver should be engaged in lifelong learning, Cronin says. Cleveland Clinic strives to have all employees share key attributes: Be curious to learn, take ownership of professional development, embrace change and be collaborative.

“That’s the learning culture we think will allow us to have a distinct advantage,” she says. “If we can get every caregiver to embrace those tenets, we’ll be in great shape.”

Building healthy teams

A focus in 2019 is healthy team building ― how to lead change, respond to change, nurture a coaching culture and thrive as individuals. Cleveland Clinic is giving special focus to new and rapidly growing operations in Akron and Florida, she notes.

“Our entire approach to coaching at Cleveland Clinic ― the types of coaching conversations we have ― is uniquely our own,” she adds.

Nurturing teamwork is essential. Coaches must make sure their team’s work is connected to the big picture, and each person must see how their work matters. The secret to success is building relationships, setting expectations and celebrating results.

Another big change for the system this year is moving away from annual performance reviews, and initiating continuous performance reviews.


That means having conversations throughout the year about goals, identifying things that are going well, things might be improved and things coaches can do to help caregivers improve.

“We’re going to have different conversations we think will be more meaningful,” Cronin says. “That’s pretty significant moving 66,000 caregivers from an annual process to something that is continuous, that is forward-focused and agile, that can evolve as our work evolves and that is steeped in having coaching-type of conversations.”

“At the end of the day, your performance is based on how you achieve your goals and your behaviors. Do you demonstrate Cleveland Clinic values in your behaviors? It’s a pretty simple equation.”

Learn about Cleveland Clinic’s transformational leadership development programs, available through Global Executive Education.

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