Management and Leadership

People-centered health systems cannot be strengthened without good management and leadership. Leadership and management skills are needed at all levels of the health system (See the LMG Conceptual Model: Leading, Managing, and Governing for Results).

Managing is focused on making sure present operations are going well. This includes making sure that our most precious resource—the energy of people to give their best to the job at hand—is not wasted on unnecessary or demotivating activities, lost because of unfair practices, or squandered while attempting to solve problems that could have been prevented.

Essential practices of those who manage are:

Plan

  • set short-term organizational goals and performance objectives
  • develop multiyear and annual plans
  • allocate adequate resources (money, people, and materials)
  • anticipate and reduce risks

Organize

  • develop a structure that provides accountability and delineates authority
  • ensure that systems for human resource management, finance, logistics, quality assurance, operations, information, and marketing effectively support the plan
  • strengthen work processes to implement the plan
  • align staff capacities with planned activities

Implement

  • integrate systems and coordinate work flow
  • balance competing demands
  • routinely use data for decision-making
  • coordinate activities with other programs and sectors
  • adjust plans and resources as circumstances change

Monitor and evaluate

  • monitor and reflect on progress against plans
  • provide feedback
  • identify needed changes
  • improve work processes, procedures, and tools

Leading is about the future. It is involved in the creation of work that generates new energy or reactivates untapped skills that have lain dormant because there was nothing to which they could be applied.

Essential practices for those who lead are:

Scan

  • identify client and stakeholder needs and priorities
  • recognize trends, opportunities, and risks that affect the organization
  • look for best practices
  • identify staff capacities and constraints
  • know yourself, your staff, and your organization—values, strengths, and weaknesses

Focus

  • articulate the organization’s mission and strategy
  • identify critical challenges
  • link goals with the overall organizational strategy
  • determine key priorities for action
  • create a common picture of desired results

Align/mobilize

  • ensure congruence of values, mission, strategy, structure, systems, and daily actions
  • facilitate teamwork
  • unite key stakeholders around an inspiring vision
  • link goals with rewards and recognition
  • enlist stakeholders to commit resources

Inspire

  • match deeds to words
  • demonstrate honesty in interactions
  • show trust and confidence in staff, acknowledge the contributions of others
  • provide staff with challenges, feedback, and support
  • be a model of creativity, innovation, and learning
Key Resource: Health Systems in Action: An eHandbook for Leaders and Managers
Related topic: Read more about Governance for Health