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Establishing Values-Based Leadership and Value Systems in Healthcare Organizations

Author: DAVID R. GRABER and ANNE OSBORNE KILPATRICK
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 31 No. 2

The importance of values in organizations is often discussed in management literature. Possessing strong or inspiring values is increasingly considered to be a key quality of successful leaders. Another common theme is that organizational values contribute to the culture and ultimate success of organizations. These conceptions or expectations are clearly applicable to healthcare organizations in the United States. However, healthcare organizations have unique structures and are subject to societal expectations that must be accommodated within an organizational values system.
This article describes theoretical literature on organizational values. Cultural and religious influences on Americans and how they may influence expectations from healthcare providers are discussed. Organizational cultures and the training and socialization of the numerous professional groups in healthcare also add to the considerable heterogeneity of value systems within healthcare organizations. These contribute to another challenge confronting healthcare managers - competing or conflicting values within a unit or the entire organization.
Organizations often fail to reward members who uphold or enact the organization’s values, which can lead to lack of motivation and commitment to the organization. Four key elements of values-based leadership are presented for healthcare managers who seek to develop as values-based leaders. 1) Recognize your personal and professional values, 2) Determine what you expect from the larger organization and what you can implement within your sphere of influence, 3) Understand and incorporate the values of internal stakeholders, and 4) Commit to values-based leadership.

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