Leading Leaders

July 8-21, 2004
Leading Leaders
By Kristen Fox / SUN  Staff Writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. Elizabeth and Catholic Charities Team Up for a Leadership Training Program

Collaboration is the key to a new leadership training program launched last month by St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Catholic Charities of Oneida-Madison Counties. They have partnered to create EC-CEL (Exceptional Character & Competency Education for Leaders), which will strengthen the skills of managers at both institutions. Beginning in September, EC-CEL will be offered to more than 120 managers from St. Elizabeth and Catholic Charities. The goal of the program is to provide competency assessment, education and character development that frames a pathway for leaders to develop and reinforce their management skills. Many organizations offer management training; yet EC-CEL is unique in its leadership development.

“It offers the opportunity for professional and personal growth,” said Sister M. Johanna DeLelys, OSF, president and CEO of St. Elizabeth. “It includes leadership self-assessment as well as skills development. Participants can customize the training to meet their individual needs, to what they want to improve.” The program is grounded in core values such as integrity, excellence, justice, stewardship and servant-leadership. Instructors will come primarily from both institutions. A contracted agency, Human Technologies Corp., was sought to help provide worker training. Consisting of 22 courses, the program offers four levels of assessment and skills development. Participants must successfully complete one certification level before advancing to the next. Subjects range from effective communication and time management to customer service and problem solving to fundamentals of budgeting and business planning to developing a mentoring action plan.

On June 18, Oneida County Executive Joseph Griffo announced a $101,965 grant to help fund the program. “This project will help address the needs of our community by bolstering the skills of managers at both St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Catholic Charities,” Griffo said. “Good management is the secret to improved retention of employees –– a critical issue to patients and clients –– and its efficient use of resources.”

The county executive praised the institutions for their collaborative efforts. “It [collaboration] is one of the great elements in this project,” Griffo said, noting that “combing forces allows us to train more people and achieve greater results.” James Angle, St. Elizabeth vice-president, explained that the project is grounded in the two ministries’ shared identity as Catholic institutions. “St. Elizabeth and Catholic Charities have always shared similar missions,” Angle said. “Both our backgrounds are rooted in Catholic health care and social services. EC-CEL is one opportunity to partner and work together on a common need.” The idea of collaboration blossomed in the late 1990’s, according to Angle. At the time, then-president and CEO of St. Elizabeth, Sister Rose Vincent, OSF, and Sister M. Johanna met with Dennis Manning, then-executive director of Catholic Charities of Oneida-Madison Counties, to explore ways the institutions could work together. The meeting opened the door to collaboration initiatives.

In 2002, Sister Rose and Sister M. Johanna attended the first national joint meeting of Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Healthcare Association in Chicago. They joined 1,000 leaders of the two ministries nationwide during the convention, whose purpose was to look at shared strategic goals. When the sisters returned from Chicago, they met with Kathleen Eichenlaub, who replaced Manning as executive director of Catholic Charities of Oneida-Madison Counties in 1999. “We talked about ways to identify strategic initiatives,” said Eichenlaub. In discussing common needs, the leaders from the two institutions both identified a need to educate and train their management teams. After months of research, the EC-CEL project was developed. “The moment I looked at it [EC-CEL], I said that this is absolutely something that we should partner at,” said Eichenlaub. “Not only will Catholic Charities and St. Elizabeth benefit from it, but so will all the people we serve.”

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