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Hi all, I too very much appreciated hearing from Larry Gray and learning from his story moving from chaplain to administrator. His translation of bedside skills to administrative/leadership skills were helpful. I would like to hear more, as I feel like this is an area rich for research and could help our profession tremendously, as many of us do consider ourselves to be “worker bees” and may even hold back our natural leadership skills in order to “stay in our role” or maintain “scope of practice.”
I do not work in a religious institution, though our healthcare system is not-for-profit. It is a small institution, and an independent one, not connected to any large conglomerate. In that sense, I am very fortunate, because I do know all the administrators and am on a first-name basis with them. I have spent time with nearly all the VPs, and with our president, one-on-one. I am seen not only as the “religious” representative (though that is an important part of my persona), but also–for better or worse–as the moral compass for the organization, the one who reminds the rest of the organization about the heart of what we do. I do not hesitate to speak up when I see situations in our organization that have a justice component to them. I have also been fortunate to be able to carve out a larger role for myself that allows me to amplify my voice on our leadership team–ethics committee chair, palliative care coordinator, patient rights advocate, health protections administrator for the research department, diversity trainer, and organ donation coordinator. My license in professional counseling also buys me a seat on the behavioral health team (and a backup counselor in our EAP department). In a larger institution a lot of these roles may be full time jobs. But for me, they allow me to expand and cultivate my leadership skills beyond what I would do as only the director of pastoral care. But they also arise out of that one pivotal role. And I will say that those roles didn’t just fall in my lap. I set goals every year and took the initiative with my VP to fill gaps where I saw them and to offer potential solutions. That has worked well for me in this location.
The areas where I still continue to struggle are in what Larry noted as focusing on organizational leadership and ways to speak the language of organizational leadership. One of the ways I am beginning to enter that arena is through research. In the last few years I have become much more aware of the impact of rigorous research studies to support ideas and programs, and how that language speaks to administrators. I need to (A) use existing research more in my conversations with administrators, and (B) seriously explore ways of conducting or participating in research that supports the work of my department.