Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Brattleboro Retreat

Name of Innovative Program: 
Leadership Development Program: Leaders Training Leaders
Sponsoring Organization
Brattleboro Retreat
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Dr. Robert Simpson
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
To enable the transformation of the Brattleboro Retreat from an organization that was losing market share, the new CEO partnered with Linkage a worldwide leadership development organization to develop an innovative Leaders Developing Leaders (LDL) process to instill a culture of transformational leadership and imbed it into the performance management system. The Mission Statement states that the organization is inspired by the courage of its patients in the transformation of their lives. The leadership development program was formulated to assure that leaders would also be similarly transformed through a rigorous assessment, educational and coaching program. The structural establishment of this self-sustaining program is based on the concept of leaders developing leaders. Nine core leadership modules (leadership, innovation, change management, transition management, project management, performance management, strategy, coaching and mentoring, emotional intelligence) are continuously team taught and drilled down to unit leadership core teams. Linkage performs a consulting and coaching function.
Creativity and Innovation: 
The majority of leadership development programs are defined either by a consultant group entering the organization and providing a course of training on identified leadership skills or by the organization sending leaders to outside training centers. The main problem with these approaches is that the training never becomes culturally ingrained or “sticky”. These approaches are expensive and are not imbedded in the performance management system of the organization. The nine core modules focus on three critical areas for leaders: Responsibilities (Creating the Vision, Creating the Organization, Building High Performance Culture, Driving Growth through Innovation, Producing Results), Skills (Strategic Thinking, Communication & Negotiation, leading Change, Coaching & Mentoring, Leading Teams), and Responsibilities (Focused Drive, Emotional Intelligence, Conceptual Thinking, Systems Thinking). A critical first module focuses on asking participants to write their leadership story and to share it using Linkage guidelines. A benchmarked Linkage Leadership Assessment Inventory sets the stage for development.
Behavioral healthcare organizations struggle with sufficient resources to promote leadership development. It is also assumed often that leaders have learned leadership skills in their training or graduate programs. The problem with this is that leaders tend to struggle to develop uniform expectations related to building a culture of leadership that is robust and has an embedded continuous learning loop. Behavioral health leaders are also often focused on process outcomes without the rigor of benchmarked developable skills. Leaders who have been through our LDL program are sought after consultants as a result of our program. Other organizations see the rigor and cost effectiveness. The assessment tools focus on skills and benchmarking of personal progress to internal team leaders as well as worldwide leaders. A unique component is the annual Linkage Global Institute for Leadership Development where members of the leadership team can attend to experience other leader’s experiences with the model.
Our organization historically sent leaders to annual conferences (expensive) to learn specific leadership skills that were essentially “gild” related. The resources to develop our LDL program came from consolidating these prior expenses. With this approach, this program is certainly sustainable and in fact has more “stickiness” due to the continuous learning loop and use of the Linkage consultants who bring in new innovations from around the globe. Additionally, as we team teach in teams of three, we will rotate new younger leaders into the teaching modules to assure ongoing sustainability. Our performance management system was completely redone to incorporate the assessment tools and targeted expectations of leaders. Ongoing trainings use multiple media including inspirational videos. Linkage performs an ongoing coaching function and offers their comprehensive webinars for a modest fee.
This LDL model is completely replicable and cost effective. Linkage is working with the Retreat to develop an innovative Behavioral Health Leadership Forum where leaders in our industry can attend targeted leadership development programs on the nine core modules which are focused to the particular challenges of our industry. Additionally, our Board of Trustees has embraced this model and routinely sends the Board Chair to the annual Linkage Global Institiute for Leadership Development. Other hospitals in Vermont have asked our leaderhip team members to present the LDL model as well.
We are in our third year of our LDL program. Our organizational results are dramatic and we attribute it to our leadership focus. We have grown our market share to 27 states and 4 countries, developed innovative niche programs (Uniform Services Program, LGBT inpatient program, hotel services to support our Bridges Partial Hospital), become a preferred referral source for regional emergency rooms, recruited over 255 new employees, stabilized our medical staff (they are part of the LDL process), renewed our banking relationships enabling renovations and engaging in deferred maintenance projects, turned around over 15 years of poor financial performance, developed innovative partnerships with insurance companies, hospitals and mental health centers. Our individual leadership outcomes are measured by changes in expected behaviors noted on our Leadership Assessment Inventories which are given yearly to our peers, direct reports and our own coaches and tracked on our newly designed Performance Management System. Additionally, Joint Commission noted our LDL program as a best practice.