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Reflections on Leadership

At Health Nexus we’ve been interested in leadership for many years, particularly the leadership that is needed to facilitate the kind of social change needed to truly create and support communities that are equitable, thriving and healthy.

Our understanding of leadership continues to evolve as we learn more about leadership from our work and the wealth of excellent resources available.  Here’s a glimpse into our current thinking:

  • Leaders demonstrate a range of qualities and attributes that are not restricted to a select few. 
  • Leaders don’t need to be charismatic or “larger than life”; it’s not about personality. 
  • Leaders don’t need to take charge but rather to navigate during periods of uncertainty by understanding patterns and adjusting plans while not losing sight of shared goals.
  • Leadership is more than a position or title. It is action that we take and responsibility we assume to work collaboratively on shared goals to create change. 
  • How we lead is critical and reflects the values we bring.
  • Leadership emerges from unlikely places. 
  • Everyone can lead, not necessarily at all times or in all situations but we all have the ability to exert influence and make a difference. 
  • As individuals, sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow.

Social change that makes a difference will only come from the leadership of many, of individuals working together.

We need leaders.  We need to nurture, support and acknowledge our leaders.


facilitate a shared vision,
foster the best in others,
inspire others,
instill commitment,
see opportunities not obstacles,
lead by example,
have focused determination,
make mistakes,
work collaboratively,
take risks,
and draw on creativity and perseverance.

Here are a few resources that have influenced our thinking recently:
Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The leadership challenge. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2007. Print.
Schmitz, Paul. Everyone leads building leadership from the community up. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print.
Wheatley, Margaret J.. Finding our way leadership for an uncertain time. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2005. Print.
Westley, Frances, Michael Quinn Patton, and Brenda Zimmerman. Getting to maybe: how the world is changed. Toronto: Random House Canada, 2006. Print.

This is not an exhaustive description of leadership. We would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives as we learn more about leadership together. Contact us at

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