Foothills Medical Centre: Frontline Leadership Development Program

The Hayward Group recently had the privilege of providing assessments, feedback sessions, and developmental support to 63 of Foothills Medical Centre’s frontline leaders, in partnership with The University of Calgary, Haskayne School of Business Executive Education. It provided a unique opportunity to not only help participants better understand their strengths and development opportunities, but also answer a series of critical questions about how successful healthcare leaders approach their work.

The assessment results allowed us to compare participants to thousands of managers in other organizations, and explore the unique benefits and challenges associated with working within the healthcare industry. It also allowed Haskayne to provide more targeted and impactful developmental support following the assessments; including individual guidance and group workshops that have already had a significant positive impact on leadership awareness and behaviours.

The program was deemed a success by executives, participants, and other stakeholders, with plans to continue rolling out the program to other sections and levels of leadership.


Participating Organizations


As one of Canada’s largest hospitals, Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) provides advanced healthcare services to more than two million people from Calgary, southern Alberta, southeastern British Columbia and southern Saskatchewan. Formerly operated by the Calgary Health Region, it is now under the authority of Alberta Health Services and part of the University of Calgary Medical Centre.


The University of Calgary is a publicly funded research-intensive university founded in 1966, with 14 faculties offering more than 250 academic programs, and more than 50 research institutes and centres. Haskayne Executive Education programs deliver an impactful learning experience that combines real world knowledge, leading-edge research and practical applications to empower leaders to achieve sustained success.


Founded in 2006, The Hayward Group helps organizations make more effective talent management decisions. This includes assessment programs to determine the performance and potential of job candidates and current employees; complete recruitment support; and employee and leadership development services that range from self-directed development planning to multiyear programs with support from certified coaches and trainers.


Program Overview

The Frontline Leadership Development Program was designed to help participants better understand their capabilities across a range of role objectives and competencies, which would inform plans and ongoing development provided by Haskayne School of Business. In line with best practices, the format balanced evaluation and professional support with a positive and engaging participant experience.

There were three key stages in the program, designed to enhance role clarity, gain insight into participant strengths and opportunities, and establish action steps to help them reach their potential.


The first stage focused on understanding the frontline leadership role, which would inform subsequent steps in the process. This involved a facilitated session with FMC’s executive team to:

  • Define role objectives. Executives were asked to list and agree on three key objectives for each leadership position. These included the most critical goals and outcomes that needed to be achieved as frontline leaders.

  • Establish critical behaviours. The group discussed how each objective is typically met. This required them to consider what the most successful employees do to achieve specific goals, and the critical situations and decisions that had the greatest impact on performance.

  • Select relevant competencies. Executives reviewed The Hayward Group’s competency dictionary and selected 9 competencies that they felt were critical to success in the target roles. These competencies and target behaviours would be used to inform assessment tools, reports, participant and executive debrief sessions, and workshops and development planning.


The second stage involved evaluating participants’ strengths and opportunities across established competencies, using a tailored assessment process to:

  • Assess behavioural attributes. Participants completed an online behavioural styles questionnaire that evaluated 32 work-related attributes, and compared them to over 62,000 managers and professionals across a range of other organizations. The report highlighted the most significant differences for each participant, allowing them to determine how their unique traits could be a benefit or detriment in their positions.

  • Collect 360° feedback. A custom 360° feedback survey was created to help participants to gather ratings, comments and suggestions from their managers, colleagues, direct reports, and others with whom they work on a regular basis. This provided practical “real world” insights into how their style and tendencies impact others, and how participants might better leverage talents or manage potential needs.

  • Conduct debrief sessions. Finally, each participant met with a consultant for a confidential review of their assessment and 360° feedback reports, to identify their top strengths, needs, and potential action steps they may take to create a useful development plan. The sessions also provided the opportunity to explore external issues that helped or hindered performance.


The final stage helped participants act on insights gained from their assessment, and provided practical steps for improving and reaching their potential, including:

  • Create an individual development plan. Participants were provided with a “Key Insights Exercise” document in which they could compile and highlight their most significant talents and areas for development, and begin creating a development plan that could include books, courses, coaching, training, or various on-the-job activities. This document would also serve as an excellent way for participants to summarize results and facilitate discussions with their own managers, focusing on factors they felt were most critical to success.

  • Complete leadership development workshops. Following the assessment, the Haskayne School of Business Executive Education conducted a leadership development program focusing on group-level development opportunities. The content was informed by the aggregate results from the behavioural questionnaire and 360° feedback reports, to ensure a more targeted and meaningful discussion than would be the case with more generic leadership workshops. During the sessions, Dr. Fred Jacques (Academic Director) covered a range of best practices in leadership, including guiding principles from Kouzes and Posner's Transformational Leadership Model, with special attention paid to the strengths and needs of this specific group.

  • Participate in Peer Support Groups. Finally, in order to foster continuous improvement, participants formed “Learning Triads” that provided connection and continuity beyond the classroom. Each triad was comprised of three participants from the program, who continue to meet regularly to share advice and diverse points of view, and otherwise support one another as they worked through their development plans over the coming year.



The program was deemed successful by the executive team, participants, and other stakeholders (with workshops and ongoing support and development to continue).

Participant Impact

Most importantly, participants felt that the program was valuable for their professional insight and development, and continue to feel engaged as a result. We are proud to have received:

  • An average rating of 4.63 on anonymous participant feedback surveys (between ‘4: very valuable’ and ‘5: extremely valuable’). Specific comments included the assessment and debrief process being challenging, affirming, engaging, and immediately influencing how leaders approach learning.

  • Consistent feedback about the “value of the learning experience” for workshops conducted by Haskayne Executive Education, which included gaining role clarity, developing new tools and ways of thinking, and feeling that the sessions were insightful and engaging.

  • Other qualitative feedback from leaders that emphasized the insight they have gained about their responsibilities, strengths, and opportunities; and the practical impact of subsequent development planning, workshops, and peer support programs.

Executive Feedback

The FMC executive team provided positive feedback from the strategic level of the organization:

  • Improved role clarity and insights into leadership expectations and practices; the program helped clearly communicate established objectives, competencies, and leadership behaviours.

  • Results aligned with internal succession planning strategies and programs, and facilitated team building and employee engagement.

Group-level Data

In addition to the benefits gained from individual assessment results and development planning, FMC asked us to compile anonymous, group-level results and reports that would allow them to take a more strategic approach to leadership development. We were pleased to offer:

  • Group performance ratings for key role objectives, which allowed executives to determine team capability and ‘bench strength’.

  • Leadership team ratings and perceptions across 9 critical competencies (e.g., Communication, Change Management), according to leaders’ managers, peers, direct reports, and clients.

  • Distinct scores for the leadership group across a range of attributes (e.g., project management, leadership, stress resiliency), compared to thousands of other managers and professionals. These results can now be used to highlight qualities that tend to predict success in this unique role and environment, and help the organization make better selection, development, and succession planning decisions.

For questions about the leadership workshops described in this paper, please contact:

Haskayne School of Business, Executive Education
Fred Jacques, Ph.D., Academic Director
(403) 251-9608

For more information on the assessment programs described in this paper, please contact:

The Hayward Group
Chad Hayward, M.A.Sc., President
(403) 698-5609