The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) has developed a model that health systems can use to adapt and thrive in uncertain times by creating direction, alignment, and commitment. For decades, US hospital administrators and medical professionals have operated within a challenging, rapidly changing, and fragmented healthcare system. Today, this environment is even more complex as sweeping healthcare reform and market forces transform the way healthcare is delivered and managed.

Proven Approach

A healthcare organization may be large or small; for-profit or not-for-profit; local, regional and, sometimes, national. It may be a medical school or research institute; a public health institution; a retail or urgent care clinic; an independent practice. CCL knows that healthcare organizations – and healthcare leaders – are not easily typecast. Yet, through the lens of leadership development, we’ve discovered common themes and practices that lead to high-performing healthcare organizations.

High-performing hospitals and health care systems have several of key characteristics:

  • Physicians, nursing leaders and staff at all levels are engaged in their work.
  • Communication is clear, direct, honest and open.
  • Collaboration is proactive and effective; organizational silos don’t get in the way of the work.
  • Recruitment and retention processes result in a staff that is highly committed to quality and safety.
  • Innovative practices flow throughout the systems.
  • Continuous learning is encouraged and rewarded.
  • Leaders who bridge silos and can act strategically and decisively in times of chaos and ambiguity.
  • A high-energy environment where employees understand how to manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Hospitals and health systems continue down what most experts believe to be an unsustainable path. As your organization faces the daily battle to address escalating costs, ensure patient care, adapt to changing regulations, manage multiple partnerships and keep up with staffing demands, the vision of being “high-performing” may seem impossible to achieve. But we know that when healthcare organizations focus on and invest in the transformation of leadership, the impact is felt across the system.

CCL’s approach to transforming healthcare leadership is rooted in the essential business or operational needs and focuses on developing high-priority leadership capabilities. Our framework for understanding and creating sustainable healthcare organizations was developed through our research and collaboration with several long-term healthcare client partners.

7 Essential Needs Leadership Emphasis
Patient Care, Quality & Safety Engaging employees
Collaborative problem solving
Continuous learning
Resource Stewardship Strategic thinking
Accountability, transparency, integrity
Ability to facilitate dialogue & seek innovative solutions
Leader Capability Leading employees
Participative management
Building & mending relationships
Self awareness
Broad organizational perspective
Building & leading a team
Talent Pipeline Managing & retaining talent for critical positions
Identifying & developing bench strength
Fostering feedback, learning & a culture of coaching
Boundary Spanning Building problem-solving networks & relationships
Thinking, acting& influencing systemically
Leveraging differences to drive improvements & innovation
Capacity for Complexity & Change Transforming the culture
Leading through & living with ambiguity
Managing the technical & the personal side of change Human Energy
Maximizing energy for greater effectiveness
Maintaining health & wellbeing
Aligning personal & organizational values


Through our research and experience working with many of the world’s top corporations and a range of clients in the healthcare sector, we understand what it takes to develop effective leaders and organization-wide leadership a in a high-pressure, ever-changing context. CCL offers a series of leadership development solutions that can help you tackle strategic, complex and critical issues.

CCL’s development programs and initiatives are powerful, but also varied and flexible. We incorporate assessment and feedback, leadership research, models and tools into our development programs. Coaching and virtual learning help people put new skills and behaviors into action in the day-to-day work environment. CCL’s Action Learning process deepens the experience through work-based assignments, team facilitation and coaching, and senior-level support.

We help organizations address their challenges through individual, team and system-level leadership development — and often weave together all three needs as we build solutions. Click each challenge below to see our solution.
Challenge: The organization is struggling with significant business challenges. What worked before does not work in today’s complex environment.
Challenge: Senior executives need to collaborate and work more effectively as a team.
Challenge: Administrators, managers and team members need to work in new ways while leading in a changing environment.
Our Resources and Programs:

CCL offers a variety of resources and programs that can help you build and extend your organization’s leadership capacity. Working with our client relationship manager and leadership design, delivery and evaluation faculty, you will be able to tailor leadership development efforts so that you can address today’s needs while building for the future. Consider these options:

  • Custom leadership development programs. We offer custom-developed solutions tailored to your unique leadership challenges – helping you adapt your organization to change, cultivate a higher level of performance, promote collaboration and teamwork, and grow a cadre of more effective leaders. Each custom engagement begins with a clear discovery, design and evaluation process that is designed to deliver long-term, transformative impact for individuals and organizations.
  • Coaching and mentoring solutions. CCL can help you build a coaching and mentoring culture and improve performance across the breadth of your organization. We use a three-step model to assess, challenge and support both individuals and teams and help you accomplish your objectives.
  • Innovative research and analysis. CCL experts can help you ground your development efforts in research and provide you with an analytical understanding of your organization’s leadership practices and behaviors. We conduct individual and organizational assessments, analyze your leadership team and its culture, and provide the data you need to get where you want to go. Our evaluation team also is available to help clarify and measure outcomes.
  • Off-the-shelf leadership development programs. CCL’s open-enrollment programs focus on individual leaders, helping them to build the self-knowledge and leadership skills needed at different career stages. These courses, offered at various locations, provide healthcare leaders the opportunity to step outside of their familiar context to learn along with leaders from other industries and sectors. If you are interested training a large group, ask how we can bring our programs to you.
  • We offer over a dozen open-enrollment programs; those that may be of particular interest to healthcare organizations include:
    Leadership Development Program is a feedback-intense learning experience to enhance the leadership capabilities of mid- and senior-level managers. LDP helps managers assess their current leadership effectiveness and set goals for positive change.
    Coaching for Greater Effectiveness helps leaders understand their coaching style and learn to build the coaching relationship to more effectively develop the skills of others.
    Leadership at the Peak focuses on the high-level challenges that are unique to those in senior positions.

Client Successes

Creative leadership delivers impact — and making an impact motivates us every day at CCL. The stories you will read below confirm that we are making a difference.

Cone Health: Getting the Results that Matter Most with CCL  (video here)

Through the lens of Catholic Health Partners, explore how CCL’s innovative training and research are helping companies thrive in an increasingly interdependent work environment.


Why Choose CCL?

CCL offers four decades of experience with working with leaders from organizations around the world to all of our clients. To healthcare organizations we add in a solid understanding of your realities and leadership needs. We’ve maintained deep, long-term relationships a range of healthcare providers — large health systems, non-profit regional systems and community-based hospitals — as well as public health organizations and corporate health-related organizations.

Our Strengths

  • Successful track record working with executives, managers and medical professionals, as well as developing the leadership capacity of senior leadership teams, patient care teams and other key groups.
  • Excellent portfolio of off-the-shelf programs for building a foundation of individual leader talent within the organization and across the system.
  • Custom-created programs and initiatives based on client-driven discovery process and CCL best practices.
  • Research and evaluation expertise, creating in-depth knowledge and continuous improvement of our approach to leadership development in the healthcare sector.
  • The world’s largest, confidential 360-degree assessment database, including more than 34,000 executives, managers and professionals working in health and healthcare.
  • Ranked as one of the world’s top 10 providers of executive education in BusinessWeek and Financial Times executive education surveys.

Making an Impact

  • Created a long-term, multi-level initiative to develop next-generation leaders and strengthen an organization-wide culture of leadership. We developed an award-winning program with Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP), one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the United States. Faced with a critical gap in leadership skills and a pending culture shift, CHP joined with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) to build a team of talented leaders and a more vibrant organizational future.
  • Helped regional hospital overcome leadership roadblocks to become a customer-focused “provider of choice.” Community members are confident in the care at Lenoir Memorial Hospital and no longer assume they travel to a larger hospital system. Employees, too, are more satisfied and engaged because of the new levels of trust and collaboration within the organization.
  • Provided a coaching component to a leadership development program for executives of not-for-profit health centers across the United States. National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) found that its executives valued their learning but that they struggled to apply lessons learned in the realities of the workplace. With CCL’s involvement, executives were able to think through their challenges, gain a fresh perspective and try new approaches with the support of a leadership coach.
  • Established leader development initiatives and organizational interventions for insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, and medical device manufacturers. Clients include Bayer, Catholic Health Partners, and Cape Fear Valley Health System.

Need more information?

Contact one of our client advisers:


Phone: +1 800 780 1031

Learn more about CCL’s healthcare leadership framework.

Through our partnership with CCL, we have created a critical mass of leaders who are connected, collaborative and committed to our mission. We are working in more system-focused ways and leveraging our strengths in ways we never anticipated

—Jon Abeles
Senior Vice President, Talent Management & Diversity
Catholic Healthcare Partners


David Altman

Chief Operating Officer

David is the Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®), a not-for-profit research and educational institution with headquarters in Greensboro, NC. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Health Education at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy (SSHP) at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Before coming to CCL, he was a tenured Professor at Wake Forest in the Department of Public Health Sciences with a joint appointment in the Department of Pediatrics.

David serves as director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Substance Abuse Policy Research Program, a national initiative to stimulate research on issues related to drug, alcohol, and tobacco policy. This program will ultimately fund $66 million in research grants. He is also co-director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Ladders for Leadership: Building the Next Generation of Community Health Leaders Program, a $4 million initiative to develop emerging leaders in health and health care.

David has long supplemented his work in the public health field with a keen interest in leadership, and in CCL. He attended the Leadership Development Program (LDP)® as a Fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Program and, more recently, was a participant in Leading Creatively, Developing Leadership Talent, Assessment Certification Workshop, Coaching Certification Workshop, and Leadership at the Peak programs. He now trains the Leadership at the Peak program. He is active in a number of professional associations and is a Fellow of three divisions in the American Psychological Association and a Fellow in the Society of Behavioral Medicine. He is also a member of the American Public Health Association, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention of the American Heart Association, the Society of Public Health Education, and Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. He serves on a variety of community taskforces and Boards.

Prior to joining Wake Forest, David was a Senior Research Scientist at Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention at Stanford University School of Medicine. He earned his Ph.D. in Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine where he was selected as Alumni of the year in 2007, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention.

Joan Gurvis

Managing Director, Colorado Springs Campus

Joan is the Managing Director at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in Colorado Springs. In that capacity she has P & L responsibility for the campus and manages the overall operational, portfolio, and client functions. Joan has held numerous faculty and management roles at the Center, including: Greensboro Campus Director and served as Group Manager of Individual Leader Development. In that role, she had overall responsibility for CCL’s flagship public offering, the Leadership Development Program (LDP). as well as The Looking Glass Experience. In addition to her leadership responsibilities, Joan trains the Leadership at the Peak program and delivers programs in the Custom Solutions portfolio.

Her broad industry sector expertise is an asset to the wide variety of clients she works with at CCL. She is a certified feedback specialist, has coached action learning teams, and has co-authored publications on Resiliency, Adaptability, and Balance. Prior to joining the Center, Joan was an assistant vice-president of U.S. Trust Company, a wealth-management firm. In this role, she was responsible for company-wide financial training, organizational development, and executive coaching.

Joan also has extensive experience in the healthcare field. As founder and principal of Medi-Legal Consulting, she provided legal consultation to North Carolina law firms and developed custom programs for healthcare provider organizations throughout the state. A published author on healthcare, she also worked as a clinician, educator, and administrator.

Joan has a long history of board service. Currently, she chairs the Board of Catamount Institute and serves on three other local community boards.

She holds a B.S.N. from Duke University and a M.S.N. in Nursing Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Deborah Torain
Senior Account Manager

Deborah Torain is a Senior Account Manager with the Center for Creative Leadership’s Business Development Group. Based at the Center’s headquarters in Greensboro, NC, Deborah works to build and manage relationships with a wide variety of clients — leading to the design, development, and delivery of customized CCL solutions. By gaining insight into the business and leadership needs of clients and connecting with internal resources throughout the CCL enterprise, Deborah serves as a relationship manager, representing the whole of the Center’s capabilities.

A native of North Carolina, Deborah joined the Center in May of 1999. She has since managed a number of the Center’s top client relationships. Deborah brings to her role more than 15 years of business development, marketing, and relationship management experience.

Prior to joining the Center, she held positions in market research, advertising, and most recently, workforce and economic development. She earned her undergraduate degree in communications and public relations from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a master’s degree in higher education administration, also from UNCG. Utilizing both education and business experiences, Deborah has held instructor positions in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at North Carolina A&T State University, teaching courses in speech communications and group decision making.

Heather Champion, Ph.D.
Manager, Client Evaluation Services

Heather Champion, Ph.D. is Manager, Client Evaluation Services at the Center for Creative Leadership. Her expertise is in program planning and evaluation with an emphasis in the public health sector. Heather is currently working on the evaluation for the Ladder to Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Community Health Leaders program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the Center for Creative Leadership.

Prior to joining CCL, Heather worked as a Senior Research Associate for over seven years at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy. There she played a key role in a variety of national-level, complex, multi-site program evaluations. She also has served on the board of directors for two, three-year terms for the Adolescent Pregnancy Coalition of North Carolina, a statewide, non-profit organization. She served as the Chair of the board for a two-year term.

Heather received her B.A. in Psychology and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from North Carolina State University. She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Adolescent Health in the Department of Pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.