Free Essay: Public Health Leadership and a Definition of Systems Thinking

Published: 2022-02-17
Free Essay: Public Health Leadership and a Definition of Systems Thinking
Essay type:  Definition essays
Categories:  Leadership analysis Systems thinking Public health
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 967 words
9 min read

Public health leadership is a broad term that encompasses many attributes of the person referred to as the leader as well as the roles the person tasked with leadership does. One way in which public health leadership can be defined is using the expectations that come with holding the position of a leader. First, public health leadership can be defined as the ability of an individual, the leader, to enhance or elevate employees' passions and imagination thus contributing towards the achievement of goals in the organization in which they work. Secondly, it can be defined as the ability of a leader to initiate and drive the change needed in the organization (Friedli, Basu, Bellm, & Werani, 2013; Gallagher, 2012, Zaleznik, 2019). Overall, I believe that public health leadership is about changing how employees think about what is desirable and possible to accomplish in the organization through the ability to inspire, motivate, and relate well with others.

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Systems thinking can be defined as an approach to understanding a phenomenon, such as a disease or an epidemic, that relies on explicit models, rather than implicit models which lack explicit assumptions (Peters, 2014). That is, in systems thinking, the assumptions underlying a particular phenomenon are clearly stated thus enabling easy calibration of data and repeatability. In the term systems thinking, the system means "to cause to stand together." Systems thinking is aimed at improving the quality of perceiving the whole, its constituent parts, and the interactions within and between levels. This is because in systems thinking, a system is seen as a whole and comprised of parts that must work together towards the attainment of a common goal. Consequently, it has been found out that the capacity to perceive a system as a whole and comprised of parts and the quality of that perception is also critical in keeping the system together (Williams, 2017).

How Public Health Leadership Is Different from Public Health Management

Differences between leaders and managers can be seen in diverse areas of work. First, the difference between leadership and management can be seen in a person's attitude towards work. Regarding attitude, a leader is proactive in leadership as manifested through their need to make things happen and to change how employees perceive or expect things as well as their moods. Thus, he or she takes a personal initiative to attain organizational goals. Conversely, a manager has been found not to take a personal initiative. Instead, he is passively involved in working towards achieving the goals of the organization. That is, he or she sees goals as if they are not desired but arises because of necessity.

Public health leaders support employees in their effort to attain the objectives and goals of the organization (Doyle, Ward, & Early, 2018). For example, in an organization, such support can be achieved by ensuring that new employees are given training and workshops needed to upgrade their skills and knowledge as well as to learn new ways of doing things. However, unlike leaders, managers direct employees (Doyle et al., 2018). That is, they tell them what to do and how it should be done. Consequently, they are not focused on building the skills or competence of the personnel

Another difference between a leader and a manager is that a leader is tasked with establishing a vision of the organization (Doyle et al., 2018). That is, a leader helps in ensuring that all the employees have a better understanding of how the future of the organization needs to look like. This ensures that all the employees are working towards the achievement of a common goal or a dream. Consequently, a leader unifies the employees towards realizing a common purpose. This leads to faster and more efficient attainment of the vision. However, unlike leaders, managers control resources (Heldman, 2018; Wilson, 2015). That is, managers are tasked with ensuring that the organization has enough resources needed for its successful running. For example, in a hospital, a manager will ensure that there is an adequate supply of drugs and that there are adequate healthcare professionals needed to address patients concerns or healthcare problems.

How System Thinking Applies to the Definition of Leadership

Systems thinking is aimed at improving the quality of perceiving the whole, its constituent parts, and the interactions within and between levels. Consequently, based on systematic thinking, I firmly believe that good leadership involves the capacity to provide high-quality care to patients. Based on systems thinking, I hope to achieve high-quality patient care by ensuring that all the parts of the organization such as departments work hand in hand to ensure that there is faster attainment of goals. In this case, hospital departments are the constituent parts. The parts should work in harmony if the patients are to get the patient-related services that they are seeking. Consequently, as a leader, I hope to ensure that parts are interdependent and properly working.


Doyle, E. I., Ward, S. E., & Early, J. (2018). The process of community health education and promotion: third edition. Illinois, IL: Waveland Press.

Friedli, T., Basu, P., Bellm, D., & Werani, J. (2013). Leading pharmaceutical operational excellence: outstanding practices and cases. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

Gallagher, D. R. (2012). Environmental leadership. New York, NY: SAGE.

Heldman, K. (2018). PMP project management professional exam deluxe study guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Peters, D. H. (2014). The application of systems thinking in health: why use systems thinking? Retrieved from

Williams, S. J. (2017). Improving healthcare operations: the application of lean, agile and leagility in care pathway design. New York, NY: Springer.

Wilson, R. (2015). Mastering project time management, cost control, and quality management: proven methods for controlling the three elements that define project deliverables. New Jersey, NJ: FT Press.

Zaleznik, A. (2018). Managers and leaders. Are they different? Retrieved from

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