The developmental progression of leadership is of particular importance to those involved in the professional and continuing education of MCH health professionals. Leadership ability grows as the knowledge, skills, and experience of the individual expands and deepens. The below graphic illustrates the widening circles of influence that leaders experience as they develop — from self to others to the wider community.
- Self. The leadership process begins with the focus on self where leadership is directed at one’s own learning through readings, instruction, reflection, and planned and serendipitous experiences. Individuals increasingly learn to direct their actions and growth toward specific issues, challenges, and attainment of desired goals.
- Others. The next sphere is labeled others where leadership extends to coworkers, colleagues, fellow students, and practitioners. The behavior and attitudes of others are influenced and possibly altered through the actions and interactions of the individual. Leadership and influence can remain at this level of impact for long periods of time. There are wonderful examples of how teachers have affected the life course of students or how clinicians or public health workers have affected the lives of children and families.
- Wider Community. Leadership also can extend to a broader impact on entire organizations, systems, or general modes of practice. These wider areas of impact and influence require additional skills and a broader based understanding of the change process and the factors that influence change over time. Examples of this level of leadership are MCH professionals mobilizing communities to improve the local system of health care for pregnant women or influencing policy at the State level to improve reimbursement to MCH providers.
The MCH leadership competencies are presented in a progression from self to wider community which demonstrates the widening contacts, broadening interests, and growing influence that an MCH leader can experience over a professional lifetime.