Developing Managers Who Lead

How can health programs and organizations achieve results under increasingly complex and changing conditions? How can health managers focus their organizations on tackling complicated problems, such as HIV/AIDS or organizational restructuring? How can they sustain their organizational systems and processes, or improve the morale and motivation of their frontline health workers despite insufficient resources? These are pressing questions that managers at every level of a health system need to answer. Whether they supervise teams at rural clinics or serve as ministers of health, they need to learn how to lead in the face of such challenges.

Now more than ever, effective leadership, with good management, is critical for health organizations. Decentralization has created widespread change and ambiguity in managers’ responsibilities, with the result that organizations may be unable to achieve their objectives. In some regions, the AIDS pandemic has thrust senior-level responsibilities on lower-level managers much earlier than expected and without support. Leadership development programs can strengthen managers’ abilities to achieve results in these difficult situations.

When organizations invest in leadership development for managers at all levels, they increase their ability to adapt to change. Their managers learn to reinforce leadership values and apply leadership practices that promote sustainable organizational performance. By practicing both leading and managing, managers are able to achieve results and maintain high-quality services despite the obstacles they face.

This issue of The Manager shows how managing and leading can be practiced at the same time by managers at all levels. It discusses effective leadership values and practices that exist around the world. It explains how managers can, individually and together, undertake leadership development to become the kind of leaders who “when their work is done . . . , people . . . all say: ‘We have done it ourselves.’” (Lao Tsu 1997, verse 17)