Seeking To Understand, Aspiring to Teach: Exploring How Life Shapes Emotional and Personal Development in Global Health Leaders
D'Silva, Sahana K.
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Background: This study explored the formative experiences that influence a leader’s attitudes and practices in the global health setting. Strong global health leadership is key to achieving the Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals per the World Health Organization (WHO). Lack of it is seen as part of the implementation gap. Hence, training of global health leaders is an important part of health systems strengthening and achievement of those goals. Emotional intelligence and leadership practices guided by it, are associated with greater patient satisfaction, program health outcomes and team effectiveness. Therefore, understanding how emotional intelligence – guided practices (EI-GP) develop in effective global health leaders can improve future health leadership training and coaching. Methods: Thirteen established global health leaders were interviewed through hour-long qualitative, semi-structured interviews. They were a subset of the 66 interviewees from the Everyday Leadership website. Interviews were audio-recorded and manually transcribed. Atlas-Ti supported data analysis, as did a second-reader review and agreement. Results: The global health leaders interviewed for this study described EI-GP as both emotional and behavioral practices that they engaged in. They found these EI-GP to be valued across the various cultures in which they worked. The formative experiences they commonly reported upon were with parents and mentors and from general life experiences. The global health leaders interviewed reported becoming aware of valued EI-GP through reflection on those life experiences. This purposive sample of global health leaders demonstrated gender differences and fluidity in language, behavior and perception of EI-GP. For future health leadership training, they recommended audience-dependent framing and structuring of EI-focused objectives through experiential learning and mentorship. Implications: A better understanding of how global health leaders may have developed EI, known to be important for strong leadership functioning, can guide future leadership training and curriculum development. More effective health leadership can directly and indirectly strengthen health service implementation through improved team functioning and patient outcomes, bringing us closer to achieving the WHO’s Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals.
- Global health