Core Skills and Best Practices

Public Health Leadership 2: Core Skills and Best Practices


In this section of our Leadership Library, we offer several articles which focus on core leadership skills and the application of those core skills to the day-to-day realities of leading in public health organizations. Perhaps the most important foundational skills for leaders are the cultivation of the skills of listening to understand and asking better questions. These 2 columns, based on the work of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), offer specific insights and concrete practices for leaders at all stage of the leadership journey. Since much of the day-to-day activity in public health organizations takes place in the context of meetings, we offer 2 columns which provide advice on having effective meetings, including a recent column on virtual meetings during the COVID pandemic.

  1. Listening to Understand: A Core Leadership Skill (2019)
  2. Asking Better Questions–A Core Leadership Skill (2020)
  3. Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings: Secrets for Effective Meetings (2006)
  4. Conducting Successful Virtual Meetings While Managing COVID Fatigue (2021)
  5. Delegation: A Core Leadership Skill (2022)
  6.  Influence–A Core Leadership Skill (2022)
  7. Leadership Practice—Delivering Clear and Inspiring Messages (2023)

Interview with Dr. Bill Roper

As a companion to these columns, we offer an interview which focuses on a range of core skills and best practices in leadership with Dr. Bill Roper. Dr. Roper, former CDC director,  former Dean of the UNC Schools of Public Health and Medicine, and former interim president of the University of North Carolina System,  is among those very few public health leaders at the top of our list of seminal sources of influence and inspiration. The interview that we are sharing here was conducted in 2004 and includes:

  1. Roper’s early career influences and mentors
  2. Framing a vision for the future of the organization or team
  3. Seeing the future and being able to communicate what you see persuasively
  4. The importance of picking a few (3-4) key priorities
  5. The challenges of deciding when to say “yes” to requests for your time
  6. How to build a leadership team
  7. How to maintain energy and find sources of renewal

The insights which Dr. Roper offered are as timely now as ever and provide tangible benefits for all public health leaders at any stage of their leadership journey.

Additional Resources for Instructors

The following slide deck provides an overview of “Asking Better Questions” and is free to download and use in classrooms. 


Please let us know if these resources are useful. We would love to hear how you are using them.