Leadership is more than a place on the top of an organizational chart. It reflects a strong belief that public health leaders will influence the public health landscape. Public health leaders not only function within the traditional public health organization- they also function across organizations. Thus trans-organizational skills are critical. Leadership development is also a way to link academic public health with the practice of public health because information integrates research knowledge with the realities of public health practice.
A good public health leader must be able to bring together several essential skills. Among these is ability to identify the most useful information and to use it, an ability to motivate and work with others, an ability to take risks and follow through, an ability to communicate at many different levels, an ability to communicate at many different levels, and an ability to act as systems thinkers with an understanding of how complexity affects their work. Most other skills grow out of these important skills.
It is possible to train the public health leaders who will strengthen the infrastructure of public health in our society. Leadership knowledge and tools can be taught. However, public health professionals need to put the knowledge and tools into action. It is through action that a public health professional can develop these skills.