Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

Thoughts on health leadership

By Tomás Aragón

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

... John Quincy Adams


I was recently asked to give a short talk to new health officers in California. Here are my thoughts on health leadership:

Since becoming health officer of San Francisco, I have learned that I need to develop more skills in the following areas: leadership, management, administration, finance and budgeting, and planning and policy development.

Since I have not been formally trained in these areas, I have been learning these skills “on the job” – and have been enjoying it! Here are a few practical leadership lessons that I have picked up from experience and observation (but have not yet mastered):

  1. Being in a leadership role (or position) does not make one a leader.
  2. To be a leader, it is necessary but not sufficient to be competent in core leadership skills, the most important of which are to create shared vision, to inspire, to empower, to support, and to ensure success. He or she stays focused on the “destination” (i.e. vision), and inspires and supports staff to be creative and innovative on the “journey” (i.e. accomplishing mission, goals, and objectives). He or she also stays focused on “what matters most” (i.e. the highest priorities).
  3. A good leader leverages relational authority, which arises from earned trust and respect, more than positional authority, which arises from “being the boss.” To earn trust and respect, he or she must genuinely entrust and respect others. Expert authority is also important: it comes from exercising technical expertise and good judgement, but also humility and willingness to listen and learn.
  4. A good leader practices humility and intellectual curiosity.
  5. A good leader practices self-awareness and elicits honest feedback on his or her leadership performance.
  6. A good leader is an effective communicator (and often an inspirational speaker).
  7. A good leader is an effective coach. Based on positive values, he or she brings out our best performance.
  8. A good leader never masters leadership; instead, he or she studies leadership and practices continuous improvement.
  9. I believe that we should model what we expect from others (i.e., continuous professional development and improvement). Thus, I believe that personal development focused in these key areas will lead to improvements in leadership effectiveness. You will find some of these topics covered on medepi.com. Stay tuned for additional articles in the near future.

    To read full page, visit here: http://medepi.com/2012/01/30/health-leadership/