Weekly Message July 30, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

The Deputy Leadership Team (DLT), Operations Directors, and John Ringer (our Director of Strategic Planning), met in a retreat on July 27 and 28. The focus of this day-and-a-half-long leadership retreat was to enhance the functioning of the team and to work toward greater clarity on the direction of the agency. Over the next several weeks, I’ll discuss the various issues we grappled with at the retreat and the results of that work.

Today, I’d like to tell you all that we spent a good deal of time exploring the characteristics of highly engaged and well-functioning teams. Cohesive, behaviorally unified teams trust one another. They engage in unfiltered conflict and debate around ideas. They commit to decisions and action plans. They hold one another accountable to delivering against those plans. They focus on achieving results for the team. (See Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for a brilliant depiction of what constitutes a good team.)

Trust is a foundational behavior of well-functioning teams. At the retreat, we did some work on further building trust among the DLT members and Ops Directors. Of course, building trust in any team occurs over time through shared experiences, multiple instances of proven follow-through, and developing an in-depth understanding of the unique attributes of each team member. However, we used the retreat as a way to accelerate that process through some focused work. We learned a lot about each other’s personal histories. We identified the unique strengths we each bring to the team, as well as the things we each struggle with in advancing the work of the team. We also revisited the personality profile we each completed as part of the “Leadership Essentials” course that many of you have taken, as well. Understanding the behavioral preferences and personality styles of team members helps to build trust and team cohesion.

One of the lessons we reaffirmed in our retreat is the importance of aligning our behavior with the core values of the organization. The core values of VDH are accountability, communication, diversity, equity, excellence, integrity, respect, and stewardship. You can find these values listed and expanded upon in the VDH Code of Ethics, which I encourage you all to read. In a future “Weekly Message,” I’ll talk about some steps we took at the retreat to help us behave in a manner that is congruent with these values.

Meanwhile, the VDH senior leadership team is refreshed, rejuvenated, and re-energized following our retreat. We return to the central office hopeful about our ability to help you all be successful in your work and in the ability of VDH to play a central role in improving the health and well-being of the Commonwealth.


Have a great week!


(Pronouns: he, his, him)