Coaching, Mentoring, and Sponsorship

Public Health Leadership 3: Coaching, Mentoring, and Sponsorship


In this section of our library, we offer insights into the critical value played by coaches, mentors, and sponsors in the development of leaders. In our view, every emerging leader and every established leader should actively seek out those who may assist in the development of leadership skills and practices, in serving as a sounding board, and in “opening doors” and promoting the career development of the leader. In addition to advocating for the creation of a “coaching culture” in public health organizations, we offer the perspective of a young emerging leader with tips on how to find and develop a relationship with a coach, mentor, or sponsor.

  1. The Coach in You (2004)
  2. Coaching for Development: An Essential Leadership Tool (2012)
  3. Building a Coaching Culture: The Roles of Coaches, Mentors, and Sponsors (2021)
  4. Connecting with Coaches, Mentors and Sponsors: Advice for the Emerging Leader (2021)
Leader Interview: Dr. Leah Devlin

As a companion to these columns, we offer an interview with Dr. Leah Devlin who describes some of her early leadership lessons gained from her father who was an innovative basketball coach in North Carolina. She has subsequently served as a coach, mentor, and sponsor for generations of public health leaders, spreading joy and wisdom to all who come to know her.

As a model of effective leadership practice, Dr. Devlin focuses her attention on the other person (not on herself). She positively impacts the way others feel, and as a result, others want to be in her presence and to absorb her positive energy. She is highly skilled in the core skills of leadership practice (described elsewhere in our online leadership library), which include listening to really understand, asking great questions, doing what she says she will do, networking, and inspiring others.

In this interview conducted a few years ago at the UNC School of Public Health, Dr. Devlin shares her insights on a range of leadership practices:

  • The Art of the Long View
  • Partnership Development and Relationship Building
  • Communication Skills: Communicating Your Vision and Why It Will Make a Difference
  • The “Inside and Outside Game” of Leadership
  • Teamwork and Team Building

We invite you to spend a few minutes with Dr. Leah Devlin as she shares her own leadership journey, including those role models and mentors who influenced her own development. She remains very active today as a professor at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chair of the CDC Foundation Board, a board member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and in other North Carolina Boards. Please feel free to share this interview with others who aspire to becoming a more effective public health leader.