Strengths-based Leadership Certificate Program

Visit the Welsh Mountain Health Centers in Lancaster County and you’ll find that the 16 members of the center’s Leadership/Supervisory Team have something in common. They have all taken an important step in creating a more empowered workplace.

Together as a unit, the Welsh Mountain leadership team completed the Strengths-based Leadership Certificate Program offered through Temple University Harrisburg. The workshops were provided by Temple Harrisburg instructors on site at the Health Center.

“The goal of the Strengths-based Leadership Certificate program is to provide supervisors, managers, directors and emerging leaders with an opportunity to learn and practice skills leading to a more empowered workplace,” according to Myka Piatt, Program Manager for the Strengths-based Leadership Certificate  and Temple University Harrisburg’s Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers programs. “The group at Welsh Mountain has been terrific. They were very engaged, represented many different levels of experience, were very diverse and all of them are working towards becoming more empowering supervisors.”

Welsh Mountain Health Centers CEO Georgette Dukes-McAllister said Welsh Mountain “had just gone through an internal reorganization during a rapid growth phase for the organization — new management were hired, promotions from within the organizations were occurring and we were in search of defining the ‘New Organizational Culture.’”

“A senior team member sent me information about the program, which happened to coincide with me completing the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath. With a senior and middle management team with different levels of experience and education levels, this certificate program seemed to be the perfect opportunity for the organization to invest in the strengths of the management team,” Dukes-McAllister said. “One of the major benefits of bringing the program on-site was that this was a great learning experience for everyone to learn about each other’s positions and what challenges they were facing. We began to understand and respect each other’s strengths, which led to many thoughtful discussions that began to focus on solutions — it gave us an opportunity to begin to form as a united team.”

Dukes-McAllister said Temple Harrisburg’s leadership certificate translated quite well into a medical setting. 

“In all organizations, the success of the operation begins with employee engagement. In the medical setting, employees are part of a team that’s overall mission is to provide quality health services to all,” she said. “The training is assisting the management team with identifying each other’s leadership strengths by focusing on the qualities they need to be effective leaders. The ultimate outcome is that we have a well-rounded leadership team that understands that everyone has the potential to contribute to the success of the organization if we focus on each other’s strengths.”

As part of the Strengths-based Leadership Certificate Program, leaders have the option to attend any of the five workshops offered or attend all five in any order to complete the certificate program. For the certificate, participants additionally complete a workplace project demonstrating the application of strengths-based leadership and attend a final presentation to present an overview of their project goals and outcomes, Piatt said.

The start of a new cycle of workshops in the Strengths-bases Leadership Certificate program will begin on Thursday, September 8 at Temple University Harrisburg with the introductory Strengths-based Leadership. The workshop will define an empowering workplace and identify leadership styles that support empowerment. Participants will also reflect on the strengths of their own staff and organization and discuss how to leverage the strengths to overcome challenges.

“What we focus on in the certificate program could really apply to anyone that is supervising people or wants to manage people. It isn’t specific to human services; it’s leaders at all levels in every field that want to build on their leadership and management skills,” Piatt said. “With the strengths-based approach, leaders are taught to focus on strengths. Instead of ‘here is what’s wrong,’ the approach is ‘let’s identify your strengths and how they can be used to overcome challenges.’”

Addressing problems or concerns from a positive approach helps staff members “become more empowered and engaged in the process,” Piatt said.

“They are able to draw on their experiences and strengths to help solve a problem. Our hope is that the workshops change how managers and supervisors view their role as a leader,” she said. “We want them to improve their understanding of how their values, their culture, their personal perspectives impact the way that they interact with people. Ultimately we want our students to leave with concrete skills that will help them build positive relationships while strengthening their communication skills and their interactions with their employees or organization members.”

As a community-based organization that hires from the community, Welsh Mountain “must focus on bringing out the strengths that our employees possess that they may not recognize in themselves,” said Dukes-McAllister.

“This training has helped us focus on the needs of our staff, empowering the leaders of the organization to instill trust, compassion, stability and hope,” she said. “The program will be used accordingly for new management positions. We would also like to continue with some annual training to ensure that we continue to focus on our strengths as a team.”

In addition to the September workshop, additional workshops will be held as follows at Temple University Harrisburg: Personal Skills for Strengths-based Leaders, Wednesday, October 19; Culture and the Strengths-based Leader, Friday, November 4; Evaluation and the Strengths-based Leader, Tuesday, January 24; and Strengths-based Leaders Impacting Change, Thursday, February 16. A new sequence of workshops will additionally be offered from May through September 2017 at Temple University Harrisburg.

“In addition to offering the workshops at Temple Harrisburg — which can be taken in any order — we are also very open to offering workshops on-site. We will be offering the Leadership Certificate in Washington, D.C., for the United Planning Organization from October through April,” said Piatt. “We will have about 20 people representing the United Planning Organization’s management staff in addition to childcare center directors and supervisors in the area. We also plan to offer the Strengths-based Leadership Certificate at Temple University Center City during the spring semester.”

For more information about the Strengths-based Leadership Certificate or the Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers programs, contact sfwtuh@temple.edu  or 717-232-6400. Visit http://harrisburg.temple.edu/programs/credential-strengths-based-family-workers/strengths-based-leadership-certificate for additional information.