Build a Leadership Team

Strong leadership is key to achieving sustainability, and weak or contentious leadership can be its downfall. SBHCs should continuously strive to engage and develop their own organizational leaders while also identifying key stakeholders and champions in the community. Building a leadership team, rather than identifying a single leader, can help bolster successes even in the event of staff turnover. Having a clear vision for that team can also help ensure that it remains a source of support for program services as team composition changes over time.

Leadership teams can fulfill many important functions, including engaging key stakeholders and community champions and finding additional funders. Internal and external leaders can also develop and communicate the SBHC's mission and goals and chart new paths in the face of shifting community needs.

SBHCs should identify and cultivate leaders by creating opportunities for staff to build their own skills and participate in efforts to champion their causes. SBHCs should use current leaders' knowledge and skills to continually build this cadre of champions. In doing so, they also create opportunities to form new relationships and create larger networks of supporters.

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Action Steps

  • Identify strong internal leaders.
  • Establish an advisory committee with diverse representation (e.g., students, parents, school officials, oral health professionals, other health professionals, members of local organizations, and the business community) to address the planning, implementation, and oversight of the integration progress.
  • Keep organizational leaders engaged, and ensure their commitment.
  • Identify external community champions.
  • Promote leadership development.

Highlights from the SBCOHS Grant Program

  • Bassett Healthcare Network (NY) used the principles of situational leadership to empower staff and gain buy-in.
  • The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, in collaboration with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and SBCOHS grantees, developed a worksheet to serve as a checklist. Those leading the integration process found the worksheet useful for identifying areas needing attention; explaining the purpose and goals of the integration process to SBHC staff; promoting changes in SBHC policies, processes and protocols; and minimizing staff resistance to change.

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