Blog Post
Group photo of the CHCF Leadership Program cohort 14 in 2016.

Four Reasons Why Organizations Need to Invest in Developing Leaders

May 21, 2024

By Marie Hubbard, Senior Program Manager and Sunita Mutha, Director

Pictured: The 14th cohort of the CHCF Health Care Leadership Program in 2016 (photo credit: Noah Berger)


In the last decade, health care has undergone substantial change. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the COVID-19 pandemic, and, more recently, changes to California’s Medicaid program, known as CalAIM, have required organizations to pivot and evolve. At the core of Healthforce Center’s work is supporting health organizations through change as leaders navigate these herculean changes to increase access, quality, and equity of care.

For over two decades Healthforce Center has trained and expanded the networks of leaders who catalyze organizational transformation. Our focus in developing leaders is to foster the skills and resilience needed to overcome cultural and structural challenges and increase the capacity of health organizations to navigate and drive change.

Our experience with designing, administering, and evaluating leadership programs for health professionals underscores that the results benefit not only the individuals but also their organizations. Evaluations have been completed for three of our programs:

These programs were each designed for a distinct type of participant with different training components, content, and duration. Every program included an alumni network to sustain continued professional development and networking to achieve a collective force for improving health care in California. Multiple independent evaluations have validated that Healthforce Center’s programs result in better and more resilient individual leaders and organizations in four ways:

1. Increased self-awareness, confidence, and interpersonal skills. Effective leadership hinges on gaining trust, inspiring cooperation, and communicating a vision and strategic priorities across the organization. Evaluations of all three leadership programs indicate a sustained increase in these skills from participants and organizational leaders. The M2L evaluation found that “99% of alumni and 89% of [participants’] supervisors reported the program improved leadership capabilities including confidence, self-awareness, and communication skills.” Similar results were seen for participants in the CHCF and CLI programs. A CHCF alumnus described, “After completing the fellowship, I was able to meet rapidly changing needs using a more advanced set of skills….I now understood culture change and could lead a response to care for clinical staff.”

2. Increased ability to work across silos and communicate effectively throughout organizations. Communication among teams and across organizations is essential for successfully navigating change and managing ambiguity and uncertainty while transforming models of care delivery and payment to ensure improved access and quality of care. According to a CHCF alumnus “…how to manage change, how to communicate change, how to mobilize, how to [lead] organizations. I had to leverage most of those skills…I would have not been able to do this if I hadn’t been through the program.”

“The CHCF fellowship has influenced my ability to present my ideas to a group of leaders, use different business plan models when developing programs, and made me more aware of financial implications of our system.” – CHCF alumnus

3. Increased ability to strategically navigate complex issues confronting health care organizations. Leadership training boosts individuals’ capacity to strategically assess, plan for, and manage complex issues facing their organizations and communities. The CLI evaluation noted, “The training alumni received through the program enabled them to lead their organizations through complex changes such as the Affordable Care Act, value-based care, optimizing clinic operations, and hiring and supporting staff.” Similarly, the CHCF evaluation found that “95% of the surveyed alumni reported that they have led or directly influenced one or more changes within their organizations.” In all three programs, participants have led their organizations in addressing challenges, such as the implementation of digital health technologies, improving patient empowerment and education, optimizing operational workflows, building staff capacity and reducing burnout, optimizing and integrating team-based care models, and enabling patients and community members to be the architects of the way health care is delivered in their communities.

“Our alumni are well grounded in their learnings from CLI and share their learnings with other staff who have not experienced the program. They are willing to bring new approaches to old issues, which allows us all to think in new ways.” – CEO of CLI alumnus

4. Increased access to knowledge, ideas, and resources through network building. The professional networks developed during these leadership programs support the ongoing growth of participants, which include clinicians, executive leaders, and administrative staff. An alumnus described, “It has been the people I have met through M2L that have shared their support, knowledge and thought partnership that has allowed me to expand my department.” The CHCF evaluation reported, “As a result of these relationships, alumni have been able to access important resources more effectively and launch new programs and initiatives.”

“With almost any issue I am dealing with, I can pick up the phone and call a CLI friend for input.” - CLI alumnus

Together, evaluations of Healthforce Center’s leadership programs underscore that these investments benefit individual participants and help transform their organizations. The organizational benefits are the result of greater leadership abilities and expanded access to knowledge and resources resulting from leaders' expanded professional networks. The four benefits identified in our evaluations underscore the advantages of leadership training and how it strengthens organizations’ ability to navigate the volatility, ambiguity, and innovation that has marked the last decade in health care.

Connected, resilient, and skilled leaders are essential to transformational changes as we collectively look to advance health equity, strengthen the workforce, and embrace the information and digital challenges ahead of us.

Join us in conversation as we continue to reimagine what it looks like to train leaders who can inspire and make change. Tell us: How do you evaluate which individuals are best positioned to lead in your organization?


The CHCF Health Care Leadership Program is now recruiting its 24th cohort! Applications are due Friday, June 7. See details and apply now!