This article is the lead article in the Human Resources for Health journal's first quarterly feature. The series of seven articles was contributed by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) under the theme of leadership and management in public health. The journal invited Dr. Manuel M. Dayrit, Director of the WHO Department of Human Resources for Health and former Minister of Health for the Philippines, to launch the feature with an opening editorial in the journal's blog. This opening article describes the human resource challenges that managers around the world report and analyses why solutions often fail to be implemented. The case studies in this issue were chosen to illustrate results from using the Leadership Development Program (LDP) at different levels of the health sector. The LDP makes a profound difference in health managers' attitudes towards their work. Rather than feeling defeated by a workplace climate that lacks motivation, hope, and commitment to change, people report that they are mobilized to take action to change the status quo. The lesson is that without this capacity at all levels, global policy and national HR strategies will fail to make a difference.