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Our Ideas & Impact

‍The Transformative Power of Relational Leadership: A Conversation with Lexy Kliewer

July 19, 2023
Intend Health Strategies Blog
‍The Transformative Power of Relational Leadership: A Conversation with Lexy Kliewer

Transformative. That’s a word we hear frequently from those who participate in Relational Leadership programs and workshops. This is one of a series of interviews exploring the impact of Relational Leadership on self and work and the foundational power of relationships and human connection as driving forces of better healthcare.

Matt Lewis, Narrative Leadership expert and consultant with Intend Health Strategies, and Sarah Smithson of Intend Health spoke with Lexy Kliewer, LCSW, about her initial experience with Relational Leadership in 2018, the continued application of these practices in 2023, and a “best of” Relational Leadership moment. Lexy is a clinical innovation manager at CareOregon, and through her experience and ongoing involvement with the Relational Leadership Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, is an active member of the national Intend Health Strategies community, bringing Relational Leadership to her team at CareOregon.

Lexy, Matt, and Sarah discuss Relational Leadership concepts and practices such as:

  • Establishing Norms: By co-creating norms, working groups or teams determine shared expectations for meetings or ongoing collaborative work. Having norms helps members reflect on their own and each other’s behaviors, creating a common language to bring up challenges if needed. Norms can evolve as circumstances or dynamics change.
  • 5 Dynamics: The Simpli5™ framework of 5 Dynamics is an interactive tool for understanding our natural energy preferences and how they impact the way we learn, work, and collaborate on teams. It uses a strengths-based approach to uncover and optimize the complementary energies of team members, enabling them to collaborate in ways that harness their strengths.
  • Storytelling: As a core Relational Leadership practice, story is a powerful tool for cultivating self-awareness, establishing connection, and motivating action. Along with related concepts such as Narrative Leadership, story is foundational to individual transformation, team transformation, and the transformation of the culture of healthcare.

Watch the video.

Explore related articles:

Discover the transformative power of Relational Leadership in healthcare, as Lexy Kliewer, clinical innovation manager at CareOregon, shares how Relational Leadership practices have impacted her and her work.

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"The leadership skills, relationships, and perspective I have gained through my involvement in Intend Health have shaped the clinician, educator, and leader I am today."

Kyle Turner, PharmD

University of Utah

“I participated in RLI [the Relational Leadership Institute]... and my world has not been the same since. The community that I’ve gained at RLI has been extraordinary. Being part of RLI means being connected to a diverse, interdisciplinary community that breaks down the walls that are typical in academic medicine.”

Katie Gradick, MD, MHS

University of Utah

“Relational Leadership is what keeps me going. When I feel overwhelmed, stressed, down, I turn to members of the Relational Leadership community for support and resilience. We genuinely care about each other. We put ‘people first,’ truly, in our work together.”

Sarah Smithson, MD, MPH

Assistant Dean for Clinical Education University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

"Thank you for inspiring a generation of future docs to become primary care physicians. I definitely felt like I had a community during medical school."

Shani Truong

Family Medicine Resident, UC Davis San Joaquin General Hospital

“Relational skills are particularly important right now because they’re rooted in people, with the fundamental assumption that we are good and have common values. If I can approach with unconditional positive regard and build in psychological safety, who knows what we can accomplish, despite the chaos around us.”

Lexy Kliewer, LCSW

Oregon Health and Science University

“So far, my experience in this Relational Leadership course has been THE highlight of my leadership journey. This program exceeded my expectations. I have been sharing the content with my colleagues who are also inspired by it. Thank you for making the world a better place one Relational Leadership course at a time.”

Relational Leadership for Clinician Leadership Program Participant


"In a healthcare system fraught with silos and computer screens, we need the human voice — a personal connection — now more than ever. That's the work of Intend Health."

Matt Lewis, PhD

Strategic Consultant

"I have employed and used so much of my Relational Leadership experience and training from Intend Health to work."

Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, MSHP

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

"This year, there's been so much change with COVID, with work, with everything. But I feel like the PCP Student Action Network has been that constant that I could always just count on. And my favorite part is that no matter how stressful work was, no matter how stressful the year was, whenever it came time for a PCP call or any PCP anything, it's always something that I look forward to."

Student Action Network Coach

“A big impact that Intend Health has on me is it makes me more humble, kinder, more intuitive, a better listener, and I’ve been able to teach the skills I’ve learned to others. All of this makes me a better team member, and I think that that's integral to what Intend Health teaches — we need high functioning teams to provide the best care.”

Student Action Network Participant

"I think the collaborative work that Intend Health does to recruit bright, energized, resilient, diverse, and compassionate primary care physicians all over the country will be even more impactful. Intend Health's efforts will be a big part of the solution to mend our ailing primary care infrastructure in the coming years."

Peter Meyers, MD, MPH

Family Physician, Minnesota Community Care

“Over 100 members of the UNC community have participated in our Relational Leadership Institutes… one word stands out for me in our evaluations — regardless of whether cohorts met in person or via Zoom — and that word is transformative."

Josh Hinson, MSW, LCSW

Assistant Professor University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work

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