Tao of Leadership

Our Inspiration

Since our founding in 1971, MSH’s operational philosophy has been the Tao (Way) of Leadership, working shoulder-to-shoulder with our local colleagues and partners and empowering them for success.   

In the 1960s, MSH’s founder, Dr. Ron O’Connor, was taught the principles of the Tao of Leadership by Dr. Noboru Iwamura, a friend and mentor, Dr. Iwamura was a Japanese public health physician who, as the only survivor of his high school class in the Hiroshima bombing went on to lead a life of service in the most remote rural areas of Nepal. He based his work and lifelong values on Lao Tzu’s teaching. First, he treated everyone with respect and courtesy, no matter what their situation, from the least fortunate to the most privileged. He also took his work seriously but never took himself too seriously. He was warm, modest, and humorous, making everyone feel at ease. He also saw that creating sustainable changes would require much more than medical care: it meant engaging communities actively with their own health needs. He saw beyond the immediate need for curative care in the larger picture of preventive medicine and community health promotion.

The mission of MSH is based on Dr. Iwamura’s concern that communities be challenged to take control of their own health and empowered with the knowledge of workable and affordable solutions to basic health problems. These values still resonate today in MSH’s daily work and serve as continuing inspiration to our over 2,400 staff working in over 65 countries.