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Client Profile And Challenge

ORGANIZATION:  An academic medical center with 10 hospitals and 200 outpatient care sites. Well known for its research, innovative delivery model and patient-centered care, this highly ranked medical system tapped into our expertise to solve its employee retention issues in the departments led by new physicians.

Though physicians receive no formal management training, they are de facto leaders from the beginning of their careers, tasked with supervising fellows, nurses, therapists and administrative staff. After conducting a training and organizational development assessment, we saw that the new physicians’ mindsets reflected those of solo practitioners more than team leaders; a lack of management capabilities further affected their leadership performance.

While the physicians showed empathy and high emotional intelligence with their patients, they were not using it with the people they managed. As a result, employee retention and engagement was decreasing in the departments and practices led by new doctors. If not addressed, patient care and quality would be impacted.

TLS Leaders was challenged with the task of engaging traditionally independent-minded physicians and transforming them into collaborative, strategic leaders who inspire the people around them.

The Solution

To build a Leadership Academy focused on building key emotional intelligence and management skills, so participants better managed and motivated their teams while driving superior clinical outcomes. Its aim was to achieve specific organizational outcomes:

  • A stronger culture with empathy, psychological safety and teamwork at its core.

  • An improved employee experience driven by more clarity and openness from leadership through shared goal setting and quality feedback conversations.

  • Higher employee engagement scores leading to lower employee attrition.

  • A deeper pool of physician leaders grown within the organization, enhancing physician retention.

Cross-Functional Buy-In:


We collaborated with the Chief Learning Officer to build an advisory committee that included the Chief Medical Officer and several Chairs across the medical system. The purpose of the advisory committee was to contribute its operational and clinical expertise to the design of the program and to create buy-in across the healthcare system.  We built a new physician leader competency model to establish performance and success metrics, which was integrated into the organization’s established competency model. The client selected 30-person, system-wide cohorts at a time.

Best Practices for Developing Leaders

TLS Leaders uses the 70-20-10 model of adult learning to create high-impact, sustainable growth experiences. The leadership development program was designed based on these key learning principles.

70% of the program focused on hands-on, real-life problem-solving through team-based, action learning projects

20% of the program focused on social learning through peer advising and peer learning activities

10% of the program focused on formal, instructor-led, group learning sessions

Assessment And Personalized Leadership Coaching

The participants were paired with Executive Coaches who were highly experienced in working with physician leaders. They debriefed their assessments, helped the doctors to set their individual leadership development goals and achieve them through one-on-one executive coaching.

  • Individual DISC assessments deepened the physicians’ awareness of their own and others’ communication preferences, and created a shared vocabulary on behavioral and communication styles.

  • The EQ-i 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment measured strengths and growth areas, deepening self-awareness, self-management, empathy and relationship building techniques.

Action Learning, Capstone Projects

Action learning is a tool that places leaders into small teams to research and address real, organizational challenges. This highly effective form of learning gives leaders the time and space to strategically think through issues that impact the business, while simultaneously learning how to communicate and collaborate cross-functionally to solve critical business problems.

The physicians gathered in smaller teams, each guided by an Action Learning Coach. They researched and recommended solutions to the following critical issues:

  • Improving the patients’ digital experience, including self-service bill-pay, appointment booking, and more.

  • Recruiting and retaining registered nurses

  • Improving revenue cycle management in the ambulatory clinics

  • Enhancing telehealth cybersecurity

  • Deepening the patients’ engagement in their own treatment to drive safety and quality of care

The end result for our client organization was two-fold: Strategically focused leaders who are highly collaborative. Well-researched approaches to readily solve some of its most critical business issues.

Interactive, Group Learning

The curriculum was based on seven leadership competencies, with a focus on emotional intelligence and critical management skills.


  • Self-awareness, impulse control and self-growth

  • Setting team goals

  • Giving and receiving feedback effectively

  • Working across organizational boundaries

  • Demonstrating empathy

  • Key communication skills

  • Rebuilding and sustaining trust

  • Self-awareness, impulse control and self-growth

  • Setting team goals

  • Giving and receiving feedback effectively

  • Working across organizational boundaries

  • Demonstrating empathy

  • Key communication skills

  • Rebuilding and sustaining trust

Microlearning was used for just-in-time learning and to accommodate the physicians’ schedules. Short, custom videos prepared them just before challenging conversations, performance feedback meetings.

A curated digital resources library scaffolded learning through videos, articles and infographics

Results Delivered

Measurable Growth In Key Leadership Skills

A 72% increase across all leadership competencies, measured through pre- and post-360-degree assessments.

Significant Increase In Employee Engagement

Twelve clinical departments reported a significant increase in employee engagement scores. Notably, these units had the most Leadership Academy graduates.

The client requested a leadership academy for non-clinical leaders due to its success.

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prystowskyDr. Michael Prystowsky, M.D., Ph.D
Professor and Chairman of Pathology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center

“TLS Leaders’ customized coaching approach brought out the real, caring personality of a senior leader whose communication style sometimes rubbed his direct reports the wrong way. They helped to reveal the empathic person inside and enabled him to engender loyalty and increased productivity. They created a complete turnaround in this leader that only a few of us thought was possible!”

At TLS Leaders, we specialize in custom leadership development programs that create growth and transformation for your people and your organization. Contact us to discuss leadership development solutions to fuel your business growth.