Organizational leadership requires constant innovation and change management. In some cases, there has to be leadership transformation for effectiveness and efficiency to be achieved within an organizational context. Boulder Crest is one of the non-profit organizations that has been endowed with strong leadership across various levels. The organization works as a non-profit with the objective of improving the well-being of veterans and their families. Its mission and vision statements are centered on the veteran as the recipient of services. For this reason, the organization has retreat centers at which treatment is offered focusing on veteran-specific issues.
While the organization’s leadership is strong and their approaches to veteran health improvement are updated and veteran-specific, these skills have not been shared with other organizations, and veterans are continuously receiving generalized healthcare that may be ineffective in ensuring that they achieve the optimum quality of life. This paper proposes a solution to this, in which Boulder Crest’s leadership is implored to start through a leadership transformation process that will eventually lead to the inclusion of other organizations in the veteran treatment process.
The solution would engage in active communication with the leaders of the organization, during which the leaders are made to understand the importance of knowledge sharing with other organizations. The other staff members would also be involved. Finally, the organization’s leaders would introduce the concepts to other organizations through forums such as workshops. The solution would be measured for effectiveness based on questionnaires administered to the organization’s staff and to leaders of other organizations.
Boulder Crest: Organizational Transformation Leadership Implementation Plan
Overview of the Organization
Boulder Crest Organization is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization mandated to address mental health issues among veterans (Boulder Crest, 2019). Its core objective is to improve the holistic well-being of the veterans and their families by focusing on their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. They work towards ensuring that all veterans retain their purpose and begin living their lives full of service and passion for their families. Most veterans and their families deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and combat-related stress. The organization, therefore, helps them to realize productivity and have fulfilling and service-oriented lifestyles.
Boulder Crest organization has the mission of providing free high-impact, world-class retreats for veterans, which run in very short durations. The organization works with a vision of combining various evidence-based approaches, provision of a peaceful place, and effective customer service to ensure that they help veterans and their families to solve the many wounds of war visible in that population. The organization’s problem solving is based on the aftermath of more than 16 years of war, in which more than 700,000 veterans have participated and their more than 1.4 million family members affected in different ways (Boulder Crest, 2019). Through these experiences, there are significant war wounds that have been generated. Most of the available mental health systems are based on a one-size-fits-all approach in which talk therapy and pharmaceuticals are the most recognized forms of treatment (Boulder Crest, 2019). The Boulder Crest Organization system, on the other hand, offers veterans and their families much more than the conventional systems based on the recognition that those systems are inefficient and ill-equipped to address the needs of the veterans. The systems offered by Boulder Crest address the scale and specific nature of the veterans’ challenges by offering strength-based training and focus on growth, which brings about skills, strengths, and experience development for bearing the aftermath of wars back at home (Boulder Crest, 2019).
- Values and Vision
To achieve its objectives, Boulder Crest uses a privately funded model to promote innovation and flexibility for training veterans to maintain their strength at home. The work done by the organization is based on various beliefs; that struggles such as those faced by veterans following war can be fuel for growth and transformation; that effective assistance to veterans requires focusing on their families as well since combat-related stress is contagious; that the collaboration between strong military mentors and healthcare/mental health personnel is necessary for holistic healing for veterans; that strong networks are required for successfully dealing with struggles; and that strong networks are required for the achievement of healthcare goals and objectives (Boulder Crest, 2019). With these beliefs, the organization has developed a model of leadership and performance in which the four core elements include trust, effectiveness, quality, and connection. These are tied together with the required resources, which include warriors, world-class military veteran mentors and providers, innovative, evidence-based programs, and a safe rural sanctuary. This works because the team is led by a group of executive staff that answers to the board of directors.
There is eight executive staff with a wide range of experiences in the past as well as at Boulder Crest. Most of these executive staff come from families with at least one veteran member. For these reasons, they can empathize with the needs of veterans and address these needs through effective policy management. Moreover, the executive staffs have a strong alignment with the organizational mission and vision and are willing to provide all the inputs necessary for the achievement of that mission and vision. The board of directors also comprises individuals who have dealt with veterans in the past. They also understand the needs of the veterans and can provide sufficient support to them to foster healing. Most of the staff in the executive and the board of directors have sufficient skills and have also experimented with multiple leadership styles and roles to find out what works when (Boulder Crest, 2019). For instance, the vice president of the organization, Sarah Fehrer, is mentioned as one of the executives who has had the opportunity to use different approaches to leadership with amazing outcomes. Under her leadership, the organization has grown tremendously in terms of reach and financial outcomes. For instance, over the years, she has led the organization to realize more than $70 million in revenues with at least $5 million every year (Boulder Crest, 2019). Moreover, she has led the organization through the establishment of three more Boulder Crest branches over the years.
Objectives for the Plan
- Future Objectives/ Directions
Despite the prolific growth that the organization’s leaders have led it through, there is a need for the organization’s leadership to transform its entire operations towards a more transformation-oriented practice (Boulder Crest, 2019). This can help in addressing the challenges faced by the organization in managing veterans. From the description given by the organization, the major problem that faces veterans is not the effects of combat but rather the systems that are currently in place to help the veterans. Problems such as substance use and abuse, violence, depression, and suicidal tendencies, are common among veterans, and they need to be addressed as soon as they occur. However, the traditional models of taking care of mental health issues do not work for the veterans and their families, and this is the problem that Boulder Crest intends to solve (Boulder Crest, 2019). However, the organization has focused its efforts on its own rural-based centers where it provides the required assistance to veterans. This means that other veterans whose homes are outside the jurisdiction of Boulder Crest’s four centers are unable to get the quality of help that those who attend Boulder Crest retreats get.
- Sustainability/ Need to Sustain Change
Boulder Crest, therefore, needs to engage in other leadership strategies that will not only help reach out to the veterans at the retreats but also inspire other institutions to implement practices that will be more beneficial to veterans. Leaders at Boulder Crest can organize brainstorming sessions and benchmarking with the leaders of other institutions where they can get the leaders to understand the rationale behind the organization’s operations. The assistance given to veterans should extend to other organizations and other veterans, and this can only be accomplished through transformational leadership (Boulder Crest, 2019). There are specific traits that the leaders in other organizations will be looking for to be able to adopt the perspective of Boulder Crest. Leaders have to use various emotional competencies including social awareness, engagement of other employees and self, social skills, and self-awareness among others. Each of these competencies contributes to the perceptions of others about a leader and subsequently to their capacity to adapt to new methods of dealing with veteran issues.
Organizational Leadership/ Concerns
Organizational leadership requires an understanding of different organizational needs and the roles of the management in driving the accomplishment of organizational goals and objectives. Currently, Boulder Crest has no distinctly defined organizational leadership culture. Each of the leaders has its own particular approaches to problem-solving, which are aimed at improving the well-being of the veterans. The leadership at Boulder Crest is effective in managing its roles. Under the same leadership, there has been a significant improvement in the veteran health care outcomes. These outcomes are, however, confined to Boulder Crest’s facilities. The organization’s leadership has not demonstrated significant effort and willingness to distribute the impacts of the new mental healthcare models to other facilities. This can only be attributed to the leadership’s failure to recognize that as a non-profit organization, the focus should be on patient needs rather than competitiveness between Boulder Crest and other organizations offering similar veteran-oriented services. While this may not necessarily be a leadership challenge, there is a need for sensitization and awareness of the implications of the organization’s activities on entire veteran communities.
Need for Change
There is a need for transformation to enhance the innovativeness and flexibility of the organization. Currently, there is a belief in the concept of “we will pursue the construction of additional facilities that are focused on combat … (Boulder Crest, 2019, par. 2)” The management needs to deviate from this belief to a point where there can be the vision of intentionally influencing other organizations to offer the same services within their already existing facilities. According to Zineldin (2016), transformational leadership can be seen in action through the results realized. Statistical reports can help the organization to put across the message concerning the veteran-centered and combination approach to mental healthcare as the rationale for shifting approaches in the management of veteran health.
Organizational Leadership and Management
There is a difference between organizational leadership and management, both at Boulder Crest and beyond.
Obstacles faced by the Organization
In its efforts to create a transformative effect on the other organizations, the main challenges that the leadership at Boulder Crest would face in transferring knowledge from the organization to others is the difference in the innovative potential of leaders across different ages. Zineldin (2016) purports that organizational decision making requires the collaborative support of leaders, which can be difficult to attain where there is cross-generational leadership. Older leaders tend to stick to the traditional approaches to activities, unlike the younger generation, which is more flexible and willing to experiment with different approaches. Another challenge that may be faced in efforts to spread the approaches used at Boulder Crest to other organizations is the potential for resistance as described by Jones and Van de Ven (2016). Each of the organizations to which the organization would intend to share information on the management of veterans has its own organizational cultures, structures, and approaches to decision making, which may contradict those introduced by Boulder Crest. The top-down hierarchy at Boulder Crest may also be an issue when it comes to knowledge sharing with other organizations. The implementation if this transformation requires the buy-in of the entire organization’s management. This requires training, sensitization, and intentional efforts to create awareness about the gaps in veterans’ affairs within the organization.
Solutions for Leadership Transformation
Need for Leadership Transformation & Leadership Theory
The necessary leadership transformation at Boulder Crest would result in the transition from internally-centered innovation to outward-looking innovation. The organizational mission and vision reflect the intention to grow as a unit. However, this may be difficult to achieve when not all leaders are supportive enough. According to Gilley et al. (2009), one of the characteristics of effective leadership is the ability to communicate. “Leaders need move beyond the command-and-control mode of managing, which ultimately maintains the status quo (p. 485)”. This can only happen when there is effective communication between the leaders and across the levels of the organizational structure (Beatty, 2015). While the top-down hierarchy helps to create a unified direction of command, it can also be a limiting factor in this communication as juniors fail to report their actual feelings about a particular phenomenon. For this case, for example, leaders at the executive level need to communicate with the juniors as well as those who are above them in the hierarchy, to explain the need for cross-organizational benchmarking and skills transfer, particularly its impacts on the veterans’ health and well-being.
Various studies have also shown that transformational leadership can only be realized through recognition of the contributions of each member of the staff to the general organizational objective. Kunreutha (2009) points out that effective leadership comes through “recognizing the contributions of generation X and Y (p. 530)”. The younger generations bring a lot of energy, effort, and innovative willingness. The older generation should, therefore, be responsible for motivating them towards sustainable change. An environment in which there is competition between the different generations in the workplace can breed failure to the leadership. In this regard, the top leadership at Boulder Crest should recognize the role that can be played by each member of the staff towards attaining the overall objective of transferring skills to other organizations as well. Effective communication also plays an important role in promoting effective performance in the individual employee roles in solving the existing problems in caring for veterans and their families (Beatty, 2015).
Leaders at the organization need to first convince the different teams about the rationale behind the proposal and their roles in it. For this to happen, emotional intelligence and empathy will be required of them. One advantage that most of the leaders at Boulder Crest have is that they have experience in handling veterans, either at home or in the workplace. Emotional intelligence comes with compassion, and the ability to move beyond structural and geographical constraints in a bid to serve the underserved. Recognizing the deficiencies among the underserved can help in promoting knowledge sharing among organizations. Gilley, Dixon, and Gilley (2009) posit that one of the necessary traits for effective leadership is the ability to coach. “Leaders who coach help employees improve their renewal capacity and resilience (p. 484).” In this context, the other organizations in which Boulder Crest would intend to introduce new skills can be considered as learners, whose capacity and resilience the organization intends to improve.
Benefits of the Proposal
The proposal given herein is aimed at the core objective of increasing the number of veterans that achieve quality outcomes after therapy or interventions by promoting deviation from the conventional pharmacological focused approaches to new approaches that focus on needs that are veteran-specific rather than those that can be generalized to mental health issues. The leadership at Boulder Crest will play an essential role in ensuring that this objective is achieved by communicating the need for changes in practice and steering implementation of new approaches both within and outside Boulder Crest. The recommended solution will, therefore, begin with building the capacity of leaders not only to practice the alternative approach to care but also in coaching others to implement the same approaches. Boulder Crest will need to take an emotionally and culturally sensitive approach when introducing the subject to other organizations to avoid appearing confrontational.
Responsive Decision-Making and Consequences of Failure
The leadership needs to establish a relationship based on trust between Boulder Crest and the other organizations. The open-book management practice has been commended for its effectiveness in promoting trust in work relationships. Nikzad and Maryam (2012, p. 344) point out that the open book management approach improves trust, and one of the approaches to achieving this is through the involvement of all employees in decision making. In the proposed solution, therefore, the leadership at Boulder Crest is to design a questionnaire that will help to identify the perceptions of the other staffs about knowledge sharing with other organizations dealing with veterans. The staffs have to understand the rationale behind the proposal to share the idea before being asked to provide their recommendations on whether they would want to engage in the proposed activity.
Once the employees at Boulder Crest have on-boarded the proposal to share ideas with other organizations, the leadership at the organization can collaborate with others through activities such as collaborative workshops during which the veteran-specific mental, physical, and financial health issues are addressed and the new approach to problem-solving shared. The representatives from different organizations would then be taken through questionnaires similar to those shared with the employees at Boulder Crest to determine their willingness to participate in the program.
Measuring the Effectiveness of the Recommended Solution
Standards for Measurement
While implementing the leadership transformation process, processes will be put in place to measure project effectiveness. The specific measures of effectiveness will include the outcomes of the proposed veteran treatment approach and the willingness of other organization’s to onboard the program as indicated by the willingness of both the employees and the representatives of other organizations to support the program. Boulder Crest already has a program in place to help promote the healing of veterans through the Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes (PATHH) (Boulder Crest, 2019). This program is confined to the Boulder Crest centers. The program has one of its objectives as scaling the healing programs offered by Boulder Crest to over ten more communities. This program can be used as the starting point for promoting the community and non-organization implementation of the alternative healing processes and also be used as an initial measure of the potential effectiveness of the proposed solution.
Information sharing with other organizations will also be aimed at determining the potential for those organizations to adopt the new approach. According to Gilley et al. (2009), the ability to motivate others is also considered one of the essential indicators of effective leadership and is the core foundation of this entire exercise. As such, the degree of motivation achieved will be used as one of the measures of effectiveness. The level of support for the proposed project will be considered to be equivalent to the degree of motivation and will be measured based on a pre- and post-activity questionnaire. The participants of the activity will be required to fill in their perceptions about the proposed healing program based on a Likert scale in which willingness to support will be rated at five while no need for change will be rated as one. When administered at the beginning and the end of the workshop, the questionnaire will show the movement in terms of rating and thus the propensity for success.
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