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By Liz Warren-Pederson

“Senior leaders are often called upon to engage, inspire, and encourage others,” said Judy Rich, president and CEO of Tucson Medical Center HealthCare (TMC). “It is important for us to regularly be inspired and challenged through our own learning.”

Stephen Gilliland

Associate Dean of Executive Education and Professor of Management and
Organizations Stephen Gilliland.

In collaboration with Rich and other senior executives at TMC, the Eller Executive Education team developed a custom nine-month program designed to do just that.

“Health care is more dynamic and rapidly changing than any other industry,” said Stephen Gilliland, associate dean of executive education and head of the Department of Management and Organizations. “The forces are revolutionary, not evolutionary, and they come from multiple sources — government, insurance, providers, and patients.”

It’s also an industry that is rampantly understaffed and overworked. “As a result, executives are constantly running to put out fires,” Gilliland pointed out. “There is little time for planning and reflection. In the TMC Leadership Program, we create a time and space for reflection, discussion, and learning.”

The Eller Executive Education team met with senior leaders to identify challenges and opportunities. Then, based on those meetings, developed a program structure and the first three months of program content.

“In addition to enhancing leadership skills, we are also providing valuable time for shared problem-solving,”

Judy Rich

TMC President and CEO Judy Rich.

Gilliland said.

The monthly half-day sessions are focused on case studies and discussions for 40 senior leaders. “Rather than lecturing, we are facilitating dialogue, learning, and shared understanding,” Gilliland said.

The first session focused on a culture of candor. “By that, we mean one that fosters open, honest communication, seeking input, and building trust,” said Gilliland, who led the session. “We used a Harvard Business Review case and engaged in a discussion of how to break down silos and increase collaboration.”

Gilliland said that challenges and opportunities are complementary. “It’s like yin and yang,” he said. “For each challenge, a leader needs to seek out the opportunities that lie alongside.”

Participants were required to sit at tables with different colleagues at each session so that they could learn from a new group each time. “It’s a chance to work across the silos that often exist in health care,” Gilliland said. “Part of the value of sessions like this is the ability to spend four hours with a colleague you otherwise would never see.”

“The case-based, discussion-focused program format of the Eller program allows for rich, meaningful learning,” Rich said.

Learn more about Eller Executive Education and non-degree executive programs and check out Eller’s Center for Management Innovations in Health Care.