Highly effective leadership is critical to address the many challenges that face organizations today. One factor driving the demand for effective leadership is that businesses, organizations, hospitals, universities and health care institutions are all highly complex organizations, often characterized by numerous professional workforces, departmental silos, ever-changing regulations and global competition. Leaders are tasked with engaging and unifying the various communities, cultures and often unseen motivations within these institutions while maintaining great customer or clinical care and increasing profitability and enrollment.

Admittedly, many organizations are recognizing this rising complexity and are working to implement leadership development programs to meet the challenge, but they may be missing key elements that ensure a successful leadership development culture. Part of the challenge with most leadership programs is that they are often viewed in isolation as a module or add-on. 

-There is quite a difference between deploying a shiny new leadership development program, and developing a culture that consistently produces effective leaders-

Complete Leadership Development programs seek to address and develop the 3 following domains in conjunction with skills and competency development as a comprehensive and holistic approach to attracting, retaining and developing exceptional leaders.


1. Emotional Intelligence(EI)

Developing your EI is increasing your ability to manage your emotions, connect with a wider range of people and personalities, influence outcomes and decisions and inspire productive behavior. An executive coach, as part of a larger development implementation, helps accelerate development of key leadership skills, including humility, self-awareness, work–life balance, focus, collaboration, and accountability. A coach can give immediate feedback, move conversations from the broad to the specific, provide support while challenging ideas, and model active listening. With executive coaching, the probability of increasing EI is greatly increased.

Perhaps the most important differentiating feature of the effective health care leader is emotional intelligence which has been defined as the ability to understand and manage oneself and to be aware of and manage relationships.
— Stoller, James K. MD, MS 

2. Organizational Intelligence(OI)

This is about making sure the systems, strategy, processes, environment and political landscape work to drive performance and morale. Even the best plan is likely to fail or at best produce subpar results if the organization isn’t willing to look in the mirror to address stifling politics, cumbersome processes and/or ineffective strategies. A great Scott Adams cartoon captures this well:

Leadership development is usually relegated to the domain of Emotional Intelligence and skills/performance enhancement, but great organizations know it’s not enough to just invest in your people. Senior leaders must be willing to address gaps, frustrations, regulations, politics, etc., that make an otherwise great organization, a miserable place to work.

-A talented and skilled leader with high EI will eventually leave if the organization is toxic and frustrating-

It’s important to understand that leadership isn’t just about focusing on developing people, it’s about making the necessary and critical changes in the system that drive both the performance of the organization and the health of its’ people.


3. Cultural Intelligence(CI)

Culture may seem hard to define, but it’s easy to feel. In a recent retreat with the Division Chiefs at the University of Colorado, Department of Surgery, we were working to craft a vision and mission statement when during a brief silence, Dr. Schulick interjected, “Culture trumps everything!” I couldn’t agree more.The classical definition of corporate culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.

Culture’s all that invisible stuff that glues organizations together.
— David Caldwell, Emeritus Professor of Management, Santa Clara University

I like the less classical definition of culture as the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient. From this second definition, we could say that if Organizational Intelligence is the process of cultivating, and Emotional Intelligence is the living material being cultivated then Cultural Intelligence is the prepared nutrient where cultivation happens. CI is the environment and mood that arises from the shared vision and values of an organization. Great leaders invest heavily in developing a clear vision and direction that produces a profound sense of purpose and belonging for all team members.

-CI is the environment and mood that arises from the shared vision and values of an organization-


By designing a Complete Leadership Development Program that takes a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, you are creating a culture that consistently produces exceptional leaders prepared to effectively navigate complex challenges.

A great example of a Complete Leadership Development Approach is being led by Richard D. Schulick, MD, MBA, FACS, Professor and Chair of University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Department of Surgery.