This post was written by Sarah McAfee, a former member of our team.
Unlike most organizational charts, CCMU’s chart reads from left to right instead of top to bottom. It’s a reflection of how much we value everyone’s contributions—no one is above or below anyone else, and we all learn from and support each other. For the five of us that have worked alongside Gretchen for the past four years, it has been a privilege to learn from her example of how to be the kind of leaders Colorado needs. We have all been invited to contribute to our highest potential, to take risks and embrace creativity, and to hold ourselves and each other to the highest standards of excellence. Now, as Gretchen transitions to her new role as the State Medicaid Director, she and our outstanding board of directors are offering us a new opportunity: to lead CCMU into 2015.
While the search for a new executive director is underway, Joe Sammen, our Director of Community Initiatives, Aubrey Hill, our Director of Health Systems Change, and I, will share the responsibility for leading CCMU. This model of “Distributed Leadership,” is a natural continuation of how CCMU already operates. Distributed Leadership is an approach that engages staff at all levels within an organization to lead in their areas of expertise. It encourages collaboration, trust, open communication, and regular reflection. The International Journal of Management Reviews (PDF) explains that leadership should be “a collective social process” and that Distributed Leadership “is not something ‘done’ by an individual ‘to’ others…it is a group activity”—principles that have always been important to CCMU’s approach.
The idea of Distributed Leadership isn’t new—in fact, it’s been championed by the education sector and has helped to involve teachers in school administration. Schools have found that it “secures staff members’ full participation in the school’s decision-making processes, promotes meaningful collaboration and harmonious work relations, generates passion for accomplishing goals, and boosts student and teacher productivity.” If you’re familiar with Collective Impact, then consider this: Distributed Leadership is like Collective Impact for the internal operations of an organization.
We believe so strongly in solution-oriented, collaborative leadership and collective impact strategies, that they are central tenets of our new strategic plan. We are also committed to securing the expertise and resources we need to be an effective and sustainable organization, which begins with a strong staff and board that can skillfully navigate this transition. Personally, I am honored to lead alongside Joe and Aubrey—two of the most talented health care leaders I know—and a board full of dedicated experts who care passionately about the medically underserved.
As we enter 2015, there are many new opportunities waiting to be seized, and CCMU is eager to get started. This new chapter in our organization’s history will be a bright one, and we intend to make the most of it. Thank you to all our friends, supporters, and partners in this work—and Happy New Year!