Offering the latest news in health care quality and safety, the ISQua blog also features guest posts from the best and brightest in the industry.

By Hugh MacLeod Tuesday. Sep 10, 2019

Awakening 3 Powerful Leadership Truths


In my first blog post, I talked about humanizing leadership for quality and patient safety improvement through; the patient voice, provider ears, and organizational support.


In this blog, I'll talk about the role of leadership.


Today, political, private, and public-sector leadership is on everyone’s mind and has never played a more prominent role in international, national, and local conversations. Private sector leaders are often seen as financially motivated personally—some to the point of being corrupt. Public sector leaders are often portrayed as incompetent. Levels of trust in politicians and government are constantly under public and media scrutiny.


We require an awakening to, and harnessing of, three powerful leadership truths: reflection fuels, people matter, and relationships make the difference.


Imagine the freedom it would give leaders to be full human beings at work and the liberation it would give their colleagues, who would be working for a healthy, imperfect person – just like the rest of us.


  1. Reflection Fuels

The practice of self-awareness and self-reflection for those in leadership roles extends back thousands of years to the ancient philosophers and teachers. Yet nowadays, it seems self-reflection is often a leader’s least favourite pastime or a component of leadership that is sacrificed for some other facet of leadership. Our relationships with others, mirror the relationship we have with self.


  1. People Matter

As leaders, we operate within a web of people relationship systems, and the health and power of these relationships are dependent upon the level of trust we carry within ourselves. We cannot expect to harness the full potential of our organizations, and relationships within them, if we fail to fully understand our behaviour and the impact our behaviour has on those who bring vision or goals to fruition.

We are not above the organizations we lead; we are a part of them. Too often, a “people matter” concept within an organizations value statement is limited to the words printed on a piece of paper. It is not enough to merely recognize the role and significance people have within our organizations, we must commit and establish a direction to alter organizational “people matter” mindsets.


  1. Relationships Make The Difference

The leadership culture creates the glue that holds the fabric of a human system together, and the elasticity, bond, and effectiveness of the glue is determined by the overall relationship welfare of the organization. Healthcare organizations do not exist of fragmented parts, but rather a series of human systems within a larger and connected human system.

Relationships create and define organizations. We are aware that structure follows strategy and function follows form, but relationships run the show. Without relationships, there is no strategy implementation, and there is no function to begin with.


These three consequential leadership realities have a profound impact on our ability to lead effectively and help regulate the well-being and strength of the quality and patient safety improvement in the organizations we serve.


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Hugh MacLeod retired as CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) in 2015. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia, School of Population and Public Health


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