PERSPECTIVE: Leadership lessons learned

Genèvieve Moineau, MD

As I come to the end of my tenure as president and CEO of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, I have had time to reflect on the last 12 years of my career and things I have learned about leadership. Here are my top 10.

1. Look after yourself and those you love. This has always been important, and we realized it even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Put your own oxygen mask on first and then help others with theirs. Remember that, of the many balls you juggle in life, your loved ones are the crystal ball: if you drop it, you usually can’t put the broken pieces back together.

2. Be kind. The most important aspect of any work is the people. Treat everyone around you with respect and be kind to those for whom you are responsible. Be generous, believe in them, and be the wind beneath their wings.

3. Be curious. Always try to figure out how you might improve what you are doing and how you’re doing it. Ask hard questions and seek feedback. Learn from people who are different from you, have different knowledge, expertise and lived experience. Seek diverse opinions, so that you find more ways for betterment and innovative thinking.

4. Be courageous. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Be brave and remember the saying about leaders: if half the people aren’t upset with you, you’re not working hard enough. If you fail at something, get back up, dust yourself off, and try a new angle to get to success. No one ever accomplished anything worthwhile without setbacks, barriers, and failures.

5. Follow your passion. Spend time on the things that really matter to you and be proud of your efforts to make positive change. This will help you maintain your sense of purpose and meaning in your work.

6. Be true to yourself. You are going to have to live with your decisions for the rest of your life. Make sure you take time to consider that when you have big decisions to make.

7. It’s all about trust. Relationships, collaborations, and partnerships are about trust between people. This takes time to build and establish. Take that time. And remember, as long as it takes to build, trust can be lost in an instant.

8. Mentor and be mentored. This may be the most impactful way to advance your own self-improvement and to pay it forward to those who come after you.

9. You can do it all because you don’t have to do it all at once. We usually have more options than we think to shape and advance our professional lives in a way that makes sense for our personal and family realities.   

10. Never underestimate opportunities for new adventures. While respecting your priorities, passion, and purpose, you would be amazed at all the ways you can make the world a better place. Don’t box yourself in. Dream big.

I look forward to staying connected with many of you as I move to the next chapter of my professional adventure.


Geneviève Moineau, BSc, MD, FRCPC, ICD.D, is chief medical workforce advisor to Health Canada; professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Ottawa; and vice-president of the World Federation for Medical Education.

Correspondence to: [email protected]

This article appeared on LinkedIn in June 2023. We reproduce it here with Dr. Moineau’s permission.