The Case for Relational Leadership
Healthcare is increasingly complex, requiring sophisticated skills that prioritize high levels of coordination, collaboration, and trust.
Drives for efficiency, value, and equity only raise the stakes and heighten the need for truly effective teams. The characteristics of high-performing teams and organizations have been known for decades. Concepts such as psychological safety, flattened hierarchy, agility managing tensions from difference, and fostering connection have been extensively researched and documented. However, building such teams, or transforming poorly performing teams into them, has eluded health systems leaders and practitioners for some time.
We now live in a moment where the stakes are even higher, and our systems, leaders, and colleagues face additional obstacles — levels of burnout, already high pre-COVID, have soared during the pandemic, the workforce has shrunk, and tremendous harm has been done to trust between the healthcare workforce and their institutions and leaders.
A sophisticated social strategy is necessary to navigate this moment. Intend Health Strategies is committed to helping healthcare professionals thrive, even in the midst of adversity.
We are turning the tide on burnout and disengagement by helping courageous health professionals and leaders implement a practical new model for showing up in their work. To achieve this we put our attention where others don’t. We are laser-focused on the quality of human interactions and dynamics as core drivers of satisfaction and success, and on the interplay between those relational characteristics and the processes, policies, and workflows of the institution.
The experiences we create are curated from decades of experience in healthcare and beyond. We help to make a core set of relational skills real and practical in healthcare. Participants are renewed by their engagement with us; they gain an actionable set of practices that can immediately be put to use and they rediscover a sense of connection to a wider community and purpose. This contributes to more satisfied and successful individuals, more productive and effective teams, stronger and more stable institutions and, ultimately, to a thriving healthcare ecosystem.
Intend Health is mobilizing a critically-needed solution. We focus on the following:
- Relational and human dynamics are the foundation of our approach, rather than a complement.
- We cover the essential skills, mindsets, and knowledge of high-performing teams and leaders and make them easily understandable, teachable, and shareable with others.
- Our programs are designed and taught by clinicians and other health professionals with deep personal experiences in both transactional, non-relational systems and human-centered relational systems. They can speak directly from experience about the gains in success and team engagement.
- We emphasize application and practice, facilitating group experiences that model high-performing teams, so participants can both be inspired and begin developing relational “muscle memory.”
- We recognize that providing quality healthcare requires weaving together technical strategies focused on structures, processes, and workflows with relational strategies that attend to the human dynamics and relationships that drive our success.
- We offer real-time team interventions that serve the individual and collective needs for trust-building, healing, and organizational renewal.
We seek out motivated healthcare professionals and leaders who share our vision for human-centered healthcare.
We equip them to become relational leaders and ambassadors for these new approaches locally within their institutions and communities, as well as nationally through thought leadership and network influence. Intend Health seeks to seed institutions with groups of relational advocates, enable them to join and connect within our network, partner with them to spread relational strategies locally, and share their knowledge and experience nationally. We believe this will further seed a field of research, thought leadership, and practice as healthcare evolves into its next era.
- Learn more about our Relational Leadership Workshops and Multi-Session Programs.
- Read Insights and Resources that drive and inform our work to bring more Relational Leadership and teaming to healthcare.
- Learn more about the Relational Leadership Framework.
"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
“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
"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
“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
“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
"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
“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
"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
"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."
Family Medicine Resident, UC Davis San Joaquin General Hospital
"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
“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
“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