January 27, 2005
JONA Volume 35, Number 2, pp 54-60 C 2005, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
Bridging the Strategic Leadership Gap
A Model Program for Transformational Change
Gail Wolf, DNS, RN, FAAN Judith Bradle, BA Gregory Nelson, BA
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) recognized the impending crisis—a vast nurse leader shortage, especially at the strategic level. UPMC’s new development model establishes a dependable leadership pipeline. The model identiﬁes high-potential individuals, veriﬁes required competencies, assesses participants’ strengths, and provides a didactic and experiential learning curriculum. Within 2 years, the program produced a 450% return on investment and evolved into the Health Care Leadership Academy, an open enrollment program for emerging, operational, and strategic leaders nationwide. The looming nurse leadership crisis is well documented.1,2 Most experts agree that the main reasons behind this leadership shortage are the pervasive cost cutting that thinned the ranks of middle managers (eliminating informal, on-the-job development) and the subsequent cutbacks in formal training and development. As a result, very few nurse leaders at all levels are prepared to step into advanced roles and perform successfully. This problem is exacerbated when operationallevel leaders are transitioning to strategic leadership levels, where authority, responsibility, and pressure are signiﬁcantly elevated. Strategic leaders require signiﬁcant adjustments in their frame of reference. For instance, the vice president (VP) of nursAuthors’ afﬁliations: Chief Nursing Ofﬁcer (Dr Wolf); Director (Ms Bradle), the Beckwith Institute for Innovation in Patient Care, UPMC Health System, Pittsburgh, Pa; Vice President (Mr Nelson), Health Care Practice Group, Development Dimensions International, Pittsburgh, Pa. Corresponding author: Dr Wolf, UPMC Health System, 200 Lothrop St, RM 11068, Pittsburgh,