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An analysis of an organization’s environment is important to decision-making. The trend in an organization’s performance and factors in an organization’s internal and external environment, for example, can inform managerial decisions for problem solution and improvement measures. An analysis of Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown and its leadership is offered.
Description of the Organization and its Objective
Lehigh Valley Health Network Organization is one of the largest healthcare provider groups in the United States. The high number of client visits to the facility, 2320138 visits in 2016, is one of the indicators of its capacity. The Network has more than 750 physicians and more than 400 advanced practice clinicians. Its scope of operation is also diverse, as its clinicians operate in 59 areas of specialty and more than 160 areas of practice (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.).
The history of Lehigh Valley Health Network traces to Leonard Pool whose donation led to the construction of the Network’s first facility. The passion for health care and service to men informed Pool’s donation as he realized care needs of the people of Lehigh Valley. His wife had to travel to New York for her cancer treatment, and Pool noted that many residents of Lehigh Valley had care needs that could not be met within the locality and the residents were not able to travel to other places for the needed care services. In actualizing his passion for health care and service to man, Pool donated $ 5 million from which the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest was constructed. Pool’s vision then inspired the transformation of the facility to a comprehensive organization that offers care in 95 clinical specialty areas. The organization’s expansion has also included research and education (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.).
The objective of Lehigh Valley Health Network, which is embedded in its mission, is to “heal, comfort, and to care” for people through the delivery of a high quality of compassionate care (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d., p. 1). The organization also aims at promoting education and clinical research through supporting relevant initiative (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.).
Leadership Practices of Current Primary Leader of the Organization
The current primary leader of the organization is its Chief Executive Officer. The officer enforces multiple leadership practices, sometimes through the situational leadership approach. Inspiring shared visions, challenging processes, and provisions of opportunities for others to work are three of the leadership practices of the primary leader at Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Inspiring Shared Visions
Inspiring shared vision involves constructions of possible frameworks for future applications and benefits, together with the development of enthusiasm among stakeholders for the vision (Hood, 2013). The leader has demonstrated these two elements and his influence over the organization’s workers towards goal realization illustrates the effectiveness of the vision oriented practice. Accessibility of care, quality of delivered care, and affordability of care are underlying goals of the organization, and the leader’s ‘shared vision’ practice has facilitated their realization. The Magnet Nurse recognition that is associated with such features as patient satisfaction, quality of health outcomes, and nurse expertise (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.) is an example of the organization’s achievements that illustrate the successful implementation of the ‘shared vision’ leadership practice. The leader has inspired a culture that focuses on quality of health outcomes through sustained competence development among care providers, and the care providers have subscribed to the organization’s vision.
‘Challenging processes’ is another practice that the leader applies. The practice involves exploration of new possibilities for process improvements and the assumption of risks for the realization of desired improvements (Hood, 2013). The chief executive was the organization’s strategy officer, and he has spearheaded explorative initiatives in the expansion of the organization, which include strategic alliances with other organizations and with members of the community. The leader also creates rooms for exploration of opportunities and risk-taking for improvements in the organization’s pursuit the access, quality, and affordability of health care.
Enabling others to Act
The primary leader also enables other to act through providing the necessary environment for actions at personal and group levels. A high level of freedom is offered in strategic development initiatives and innovation, and these have contributed to the reported success of the organization into the multiple recognitions and accreditations (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.). The organization also allows its nurses to learn and earn accreditation and the associated competence development identify with the empowerment concepts the ‘enabling others to act’ leadership practice (Hood, 2013).
Effects of Current Leadership on Organizational Culture
A commitment to the vision of the organization, derived from the passion of Leonard Pool whose donation led to the construction of the organization’s first facility, is one of the elements of the culture of the organization. The organization also value sustained competency development among its professionals. The Lehigh Valley Health Network has a hierarchical organizational structure (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.). A board of directors, a senior management council, and other management teams are the main decision-makers in the organization. Client and employee satisfaction are other features of the organization.
The top management, in its value for the vision, has succeeded in promoting the culture of value for the vision through strategic alliances and expansion for the realization of accessibility and quality of care. Similarly, the entity has been involved in health coverage to facilitate affordability of care that is part of its vision. Promotion of learning and caregivers’ accreditation among the organization’s caregivers is another measure that the organization has used to promote its culture, on the vision, through the promotion of caregivers’ competence into quality care. Success in the realization of the organization’s objective, which reduced morbidity and mortality rates illustrate, as well as the organization’s awards and recognitions illustrate, demonstrate the success of the current leadership in enforcing the culture (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.). The leadership approaches of the primary leader, which has been applied at lower levels of the organization’s structure, have also facilitated a sense of responsibility, among internal stakeholders, for the ownership of the organization’s vision. Inclusion of the internal stakeholders in the development of short term and long-term visions has also promoted their active roles in the commitment to the developed goals and success in the realization of the goals. The initial leadership of the organization that developed the underlying culture of the organization and the subsequent leaderships that preserved the culture also explain the success of the current leadership in promoting the culture. The past leaderships offered a framework that the current leadership continues to implement and strengthen.
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One of the strengths of The Lehigh Valley Health Network is its strong organizational culture that seems to be embedded at all levels of the organization. The culture identifies a focus on care outcomes and identifies with such input factors like a competent and dedicated human resource base. The strong culture can assimilate new entrants and the self-sustaining ability of the culture and lead to a stable workforce and high levels of employee output. The experienced success that awards and recognitions show illustrate the positive effects of the culture.
A positive corporate image, a tool for attraction and retention of quality personnel as well as attraction and retention of clients, is another strength that the organization. The Magnet Nurse recognition that the organization has obtained, which is based on clients’ satisfaction with offered services and nurses’ satisfaction with their work environment that, illustrate the entity’s positive corporate image and its benefit from the image.
Financial information of the organization identifies two of its weaknesses that are significant to its sustainability and operations. The entity suffered a significant decline in its revenues from the year ended 2015 to the year ended 2016. The inefficiency in managing operational expenses, if not addressed, can lead to operational and net losses in future and threaten the entity’s stability (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.).
Reliance on external sources of finances is another weakness of the organization and establishes the risk of long-term instability. Liabilities financed more the entity’s total assets compared to owners’ equity in the year 2015. Owners’ equity, however, finances more than had the value of total assets in the previous accounting year and this indicates a decline in management efficiency. The entity’s net asset value (owner’s equity) reduced from $ 1337.686 million to $ 1191.620 million and this indicates loss of equity in operations (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.).
Expansion to other parts of the United States, and even the globe is one of the major opportunities for the entity. It has been ranked, highly, both in the Pennsylvania state, and the associated image grants it a competitive advantage over some of its competitors. An expansion, even in areas with established care facilities, therefore, is possible.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network can also develop novel care practices through its research initiatives. The organization plays active roles in education and research that offers it facilities and personnel for research on health issues. The results of such research initiatives are new, effective, and efficient care practices for even better care outcomes. Consequently, The Lehigh Valley Health Network has an opportunity of improving its corporate image, to even becoming the best facility in the nation.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network faces competition from other care facilities in the Lehigh Valley region. A competitive advantage or one or more of the competitors, through such initiatives as improved quality of delivered services and improved patient safety, can lower the number of patients at The Lehigh Valley Health Network. The consequence is a likely decline in revenues and a further strain on operating and net income, as well as economic sustainability.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network, due to its extensive use of information technology (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.) faces the threat of cyber-attack. Cyber-attacks allow unauthorized access to information from online storages and undermine the established corporate image and safety of the entity’s clients into a disadvantage. The wide scope of cyber-attacks in the health sector, which includes internal and external threats (Luna, Rhine, Myhra, Sullivan, & Kruse, 2015), explain the significance of associated threats. The threats can destabilize the organization’s customer and human resource bases.
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Strengths of the Chosen Leader
The contemporary transactional leadership theory is selected for the evaluation of the leader, and the association between the leader’s practices and the theory informs the selection. Charisma, “inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration” characterizes the leadership style (Williams, 2015, p. 406). The charisma aspect of the leadership approach involves a leader’s position as a role model to followers. Transformational leaders attract admiration, respect, and trust from their followers because the leaders sacrifice their needs for the needs of the followers and partake in the risks through which the followers go. In addition, transformational leaders motivate followers, inspire innovation and creativity among followers, and provide for the needs of each follower through different forms of support (Williams, 2015; The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.).
Inspiration of shared visions, challenging of processes, and enabling others to act are some of the leadership practices of the primary leader that establishes the transformational leadership approach as the primary style. One of the strengths of the leader, based on the leadership practices and the strengths of the dominant leadership style, is the ability to create an environment that promotes creativity, innovation, active roles of each member of the Network, and excellence (Lutchman, Maharaj, & Ghanem, 2016). The success of the organization, which such recognitions as the Magnet Nurse recognition and the positive indicators of health outcomes illustrate, demonstrates the strength of the leader. The ability to create a shared vision and promote the culture of involvement is another strength of the leader and is evident in such indicators as the sustained vision of the provision of quality, affordable, and accessible care, as well as nurses initiatives in continued learning. The role of internal stakeholders in decision-making, through management groups, also illustrates the strength of the leader in ensuring inclusivity in decision-making (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.). The leader has also demonstrated the ability to promote intellectual stimulation through the success in sustaining the organization’s vision, despite possible inflow and outflow of internal stakeholders (The Lehigh Valley Health Network, N.d.).
Weaknesses of the Chosen Leader
One of the weaknesses of the leader, derived from a limitation of the transformational leadership style, is the failure to mentor a person for a possible succession should the leader leave the position. A gap, therefore, is likely to emerge upon the leader’s exist (Lutchman, Maharaj, & Ghanem, 2016), and this could threaten the existing organizational culture and success. The complex nature of the transformational leadership style that undermines the ability to train a person on the style (Suresh & Rajin, 2013) could explain the weakness.
The leader has also demonstrated a high level of effectiveness that makes his leadership unchallenged, and the success establishes a lack of democracy. Members submit to the leader’s perceived position without significant pressure and this could lead to lost opportunities when the leader does not believe in presented options. Another limitation of the leader is a level of bias in response to people and issues that people raise. The leader is seen to have an inner cycle of personnel that receives a preferential treatment than do other personnel. The behavior could have negative psychological effects on some employees and have adverse effects on their performance.
Recommended Theory-based Practices for Maximizing the Success of the Leader
The promotion of a greater level of independence of management teams, managers, and employees is one of the recommended practices for maximizing the success of the leader. The practice is recommended for managing the negative effects of effective transformational leadership that can lead to autocracy. Giving room for independence addresses this through allowing assertive expression of each idea into an exploration of a wider range of opportunities (Suresh & Rajin, 2013).
Mentorship of immediate followers is also recommended. A challenge exists in teaching others on transformational leadership approach, because of its trait scope and lack of clear framework, and mentorship could address this. Mentoring immediate followers is also likely to transfer the effectiveness of the leader to lower levels of leadership for greater organizational outcomes and promote succession in the top leadership (Suresh & Rajin, 2013).
A recommendation is also made for equality in the treatment of all members of the organization. The level of effectiveness of the leaders is likely to be lower among the ‘out of group’ members and this results in a lower overall level of effectiveness in the leadership. The effect is a lower level of success of the organization, and equal treatment can bridge the gap to optimize organizational effectiveness and output (Suresh & Rajin, 2013).
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An analysis of Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown and its leadership has been reviewed and the organization’s success has been established. Inspiration of shared visions, challenging processes, and enabling others to act are some of the leadership practices of the organization’s primary leader. The current leadership has succeeded in sustaining the organization’s culture. The strengths of the organization include its strong organizational culture and a positive corporate image while its weaknesses include inefficiency in the management of assets for profitability and economic sustainability. The network’s opportunities include the ability to expand to other regions and develop new practices for a competitive advantage while intensified competition and risks of cyber-attack are some of the threats. The strengths of the primary leader include the demonstrated ability to create a good working environment, promote shared visions, and promote intellectual stimulation. The leader’s weaknesses, however, include a failure to mentor others in leadership, a creation of an environment of autocracy, and bias in leadership. Recommendations are made for a reduced level of control of the leader, mentorship of immediate followers, and equality in relationships with followers.
- The Lehigh Valley Health Network. (N.d.). The Lehigh Valley Health Network. The Lehigh Valley Health Network.
- Hood, L. (2013). Leddy & Pepper’s conceptual bases of professional nursing, 8th Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Luna, R., Rhine, E., Myhra, M., Sullivan, R., & Kruse, C. (2015). Cyber threats to health information systems: A systematic reviews. The Technology & Health Care, 24(1), 1-9.
- Williams, C. (2015). Effective management, 7th Ed. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
- Lutchman, C., Maharaj, R., & Ghanem, W. (2016). Safety management: A comparative approach to developing a sustainable system. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
- Suresh, A. & Rajin, J. (2013). Tramsformational leadership approach in organizations- Its strengths and weaknesses. The International Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary Research, 2(3), 155-160.