Clinical Leadership And The United Kingdom National Health Service

3001 Words Jan 21st, 2015 13 Pages
Clinical leadership is a concept growing in usage. Word frequency in the English lexicon shows the term increasing in the last two decades, despite its composite words remaining static over the same period (Graphs 1 and 2).

Graph 1: Word frequency in the British Lexicon of “leadership” and “clinical” (Google 2015)

Graph 2: Word frequency in the British Lexicon of “clinical leadership” (Google 2015)

Clinical leadership as a term grew out of opposition to New Public Management (Hood 1991) and the corporatisation of health services in the 1970s to 1990s. The recent focus on catastrophic medical errors in the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), in particular at the Mid Staffordshire trust, has resulted in
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They organise resources and maintain stability. This is a large field, but for current purposes we accept that, though there is overlap, Kotter’s definition serves to highlight a valid distinction.

Leadership as a term has differing meanings through time. The influence of ‘Great Man’ theories stem form the socio-politico models prevalent in much of the first half of the twentieth century. However, personality traits map poorly to successful leaders, and this theory has waned. Post-war good leadership was thought to be based more around behaviours. It was out of this that models for behaviour arose, including Adair’s (1973) three circles model (task, team and individual). Truly good leadership will undoubtedly involve a mixture of nature (or traits) and nurture (behaviours). Current theory is that leadership skills are transferrable and learnable.

Outside the world of clinical medicine, leadership development programs abound. The private sector invests heavily in developing employees. Western Governments have Leadership Academies for their military officers (e.g. West Point and Sandhurst). Mumford et al (2000) propose that leadership skills can be learned throughout one’s career, with the implication that they can be taught.

Though leadership is an important part of change management among non-clinical organisations, what distinguishes clinical leadership? The literature has
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