Sue Tetzlaff and Jane McLeod

Sue Tetzlaff and Jane McLeod, Founders, Capstone Leadership Solutions, Inc

Being a leader in the healthcare industry takes a unique set of skills. True healthcare leaders hold the potential to redefine and revamp the industry with undying perseverance, persistence, and passion. They inspire change in the current health system with truly innovative practices in delivering care and aspire to make the world a better place through their relentless efforts. Acquiring such attributes, two inspirational entrepreneurs, Sue Tetzlaff and Jane McLeod are revolutionizing healthcare by helping healthcare organizations and leaders to bring value to their patients, employees, physicians, and communities.

Being accomplished registered nurses with extensive years of leadership experience in the industry, both Jane and Sue had a drive for initiating change in healthcare. Initially, they didn’t have a plan to establish a business as they were both enjoying their rewarding and exciting careers as healthcare executives in their local community hospital. While working, they came across each other and became a part of a senior leadership team dedicated to addressing the need for a hospital-wide culture change. During this period, Jane and Sue, along with a 14-member team, realized how the inefficient practices, strategies, and poor patterns in their healthcare facility were preventing leaders from establishing a better culture. Thus, to end this downturn, they crafted an efficient strategy and a full framework that not only saved the hospital’s financial future but also helped it to thrive and achieve impeccable results. Looking at the astounding improvement, other hospitals also reached out to Sue and Jane for assistance, and at the request of other struggling community hospitals in the state, they founded Capstone Leadership Solutions, Inc. in February 2012. Proudly asserting themselves as nurse entrepreneurs, today, the dynamic duo is spearheading Capstone towards growth and success.

Creating a Framework for Achieving Great Results

Capstone follows a “partnership” approach to work with individual healthcare organizations serving as their strategists, trainers, and coaches to implement the structure, systems, and solutions that make up ‘The Framework for Achieving Great Results’. A major component of this approach is focused on transforming the culture, or “invisible infrastructure” of the organization, which takes time and perseverance. In essence, Capstone’s framework works by creating alignment and elevating ownership which supports the organization’s creation of more effective methods of teaming, leading, and changing. “We believe that we have “cracked the code” on shifting an organization from their baseline performance to the very top, and then being able to continually build upon those results over the very long term,” asserts Sue.

Given its experience with dozens of organizational transformations, the company has been able to identify seven common barriers to change. With this knowledge, Capstone can support organizations to become more agile and innovative by teaching them to proactively prevent, and/or to recognize and eliminate, barriers to change. “It is so rewarding to transform organizations that are putting in lots of effort just to achieve operational results that are at the ‘average’ of state or national benchmarks, and then support them to create the internal expertise and systems to consistently improve results and then become top ranking while achieving high reliability,” opines Jane.

Conquering Challenges to Attain Excellence

Before building the team, as the co-founders, Sue and Jane had the sole responsibility for running the business, assessing and improving services, and providing the services to the clients. Leaving their full-time jobs as healthcare executives, they were relentlessly working to bring the Framework to more and more healthcare organizations. But as they experienced a huge growth spurt in 2016, they needed to hire their first employee and engage other healthcare executives as independent contractors. This busy work schedule left a little time for the entrepreneurs to focus on building the infrastructure of their business so that it could scale its impact and reach. Thus, in 2018, they decided to take a pause and focus on formally evaluating and improving their service and creating the infrastructure of a business.

Another major challenge that the company had to face during this phase was branding. Branding wasn’t really anything that Sue and Jane had thought much of as nurses who simply wanted to serve the healthcare organizations. Therefore, as a part of their marketing strategy, they shared the success stories of their partner organizations that adopted The Framework at the state and national healthcare conferences and their own public training events, Capstone Leadership Summits. This intentionally branded Capstone as a leadership training company. “Yet when the organizations that we partnered with became so wildly successful, one right after the other, we knew we needed to shift our primary focus away from training, and to comprehensive transformation services. It was challenging, and actually still is today, to not be perceived as a “one and done” training company versus a partner in the transformation when we serve as strategists, coaches, and trainers in a long-term relationship with an organization,” affirms Sue.

According to Jane, “You can have the best ideas, strategies, and solutions, but if you can’t get leaders and employees to consistently and competently use them, results are not going to change and strategies will not advance. Thus, they help organizations create an empowering culture that encourages employees to express their views and ideas and reach their maximum potential.”

Adhering To Core Values to Guide Business Decisions

Capstone’s culture is driven by 3 core attributes— resource, relationship, and resilience. The pioneering company believes in advancing and sharing knowledge and subject matter expertise to achieve excellence in healthcare results and cultures. It also focuses on establishing trusted, responsive, and caring relationships while being proactive about improving resilience and wellbeing. Since its inception, the company has also adhered to a value of “pay-it-forward.” Keeping this value at its core, the company donates a portion of the registration fees of public training events to causes that an audience member selects.

Leaving a Legacy of Innovation and Leadership

The visionary leaders believe that the pandemic has elevated the already existing need for proven strategies that strengthen healthcare organizations. Thus, there is a need to create an even faster and easier way to transform strained healthcare organizations into flourishing ones. As a strategic step towards this objective, Capstone is planning to release a revolutionary e-Innovation platform, ASCEND™ in April 2021. Powered by The Framework for Achieving Great Results, the electronic platform delivers the perfect combination of “DFY” (Done For You) strategies and solutions and guided “DIY” (Do Innovation Yourself)- so leaders and employee-driven innovation teams can MOVE FASTER toward their organization’s opportunities and key strategies.

“Powered by more than a decade of discovery and refinement, and backed by proven results, ASCEND™ offers the healthcare industry something it has never experienced before. In essence, it is a product, not a typical training or consulting service that will guide a steering team, employee-driven innovation teams, and all leaders in the organization through the transformation, “states Sue.

For the organizations who seek only the leadership strengthening components contained within ASCEND™, the company is building a sister platform, ADVANCE™. Like ASCEND™, this platform will support leadership development activities such as onboarding new leaders and continual development toward 9 core competencies, yet will not include the plans and resources for the employee-driven innovation teams.

After successfully leading Capstone over the years, Jane and Sue are now positioning their company for transition to new ownership in 2022. As a fun legacy feature of the ASCEND™ and ADVANCE™ products, the company is including Jane and Sue in avatar form as part of the “DFY” assets such as the animated videos for organization-wide use for employee and leadership training.“The goal before the sale of the company is to have ASCEND™ or ADVANCE™ in use supporting the transformation of 100 healthcare organizations,” concludes Jane.