Balancing Management and Leadership in Complex Health Systems; Comment on “Management Matters: A Leverage Point for Health Systems Strengthening in Global Health”

Document Type : Commentary


1 Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management, University of Ghana School of Public Health, Accra, Ghana

2 Sociology and Development of Change Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands


Health systems, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), need stronger management and leadership capacities. Management and leadership are not synonymous, yet should be considered together as there can be too much of one and not enough of the other. In complex adaptive health systems, the multiple interactions and relationships between people and elements of the system mean that management and leadership, so often treated as domains of the individual, are additionally systemic phenomena, emerging from these relational interactions. This brief commentary notes some significant implications for how we can support capacity strengthening interventions for complex management and leadership. These would necessarily move away from competency-based models focused on training for individuals, and would rather encompass longer-term initiatives explicitly focused on systemic goals of accountability, innovation, and learning.


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